As Bloody Mary-worthy mornings come, it is a task to power through one feeling anything more than…awake. Let alone glamorous.
Thank Strand Gods for Eneko.
One Aldwych’s subterranean dining quarters not only swallows you into a luxurious underbelly but offers the best Bloody Mary – a “Golden” version that swaps the basic ingredients for spiced vodka, golden tomato juice & celery foam – in London.
That and a brunch to write home about.
Settling into one of their open-air booths, my dining companion instinctively raised her phone to share the room’s lush aesthetic with Instagram.
You can only imagine the digital exploitation of the food itself. Acclaimed chef Eneko Atxa (whose three-Michelin Azurmendi restaurant is #16 in the World’s Top 50 Restaurants) pulls off brunch like very few can; Traditional Talo (with heritage tomatoes & fresh herbs), duck breast (with green Gernika peppers & super-thin fries), Txuleta (prime rib with a spring onion salad), et al.
From start to Cava-clinking (brunch includes a complimentary glass of Mas Macia Cava brut per person) finish, the Basque benefaction tickled every tastebud tenable.
L’eto has become one of my favourite meeting spots in London. Thanks to their super fresh food and easy-access locations, the ‘Caffe’ ends up on my calendar at least once a week.
When I saw they had launched a new health-conscious breakfast menu, I was shocked to realise I had yet to visit their Brompton Road location (as opposed to their King’s Road and Belgravia caffes).
That’s as good an excuse for brunch as this woman needs…
Having a bit of a ‘Princess Day off’ (if you haven’t done one yet this year, call HR immediately), my lady love Jen and I took a leisurely walk from South Kensington and poured ourselves into the gorgeous caffe on a quiet Monday morning.
With an endless menu of healthy indulgences to order, we kicked things off with a green tea smoothie and trio of juice shooters; 1) carrot and blood orange, 2) green apple, kiwi, and kale, and 3) beetroot and red grape.
Naturally, we then ordered the naughtiest of the healthy options. For me, ricotta hotcakes, banana, and honeycomb butter. For she, blueberry pancakes with fresh berries and vanilla cream. To share, a freshly sliced avocado.
Sipping and chomping and singing along with their infectiously nostalgic background music, we had an absolute ball. Forcing our little breakfast feast to last as long as possible, we ordered a mosaic-foamed latte and heart-topped flat white as a morningcap.
The Princess Day had to roll on (but don’t worry, L’eto, I’ll roll on back…)
Balans is one of those great chain restaurants – unlike Jamie’s Italian or Nandos – that can still lure me in despite having the growth of a very strong brand. Based both in London and Miami, their UK branches include Bluewater, Soho (twice; one of which is open 24 hours), Earls Court, Kensington, Westfield Stratford City and this past Saturday’s choice, Westfield London.
Itching for some caffeine and a catch-up with a dear ladyfriend in the presence of eggs, Balans Westfield London had brunch written all over it.
While my partner in protein-filled crime opted for Balans Jumbo Breakfast (two free range eggs, bacon sausage, potatoes, toast, an American pancake with fruit), I mixed their moreish fruit-garnished cinnamon French Toast plate with the answer to my weeklong craving for Eggs Benedict and smoked salmon (single-serving, or I would have popped). The reliability of Balans is undeniable; their food is delicious, affordable, and the service you are given is attentive with a permasmile.
Deciding to grab a breakfast tipple and move to people-watch in their al fresco area (heated, thank foodness), we sampled their new Red Ribbon cocktail. Created to mark and support World AIDS Day on the 1st of December, master mixologists have combined a splash of Chase vodka (the world’s first super premium English potato vodka) with fresh raspberry purée, vanilla syrup, and a side shot of champagne. The Red Ribbon cocktail will be available from now until Sunday the 2nd of December and Balans are donating 100% of the profits to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, so you now have no excuse not to get a little tipsy at breakfast.