Hungry in London: 10 of the best breakfasts…

Let’s face it, if our parents and every responsible adult since the dawn of time are to be believed, then breakfast = the most important meal of the day.

As a responsible person yourself now – I know, I know but what happened at university, stays at university – what you also understand to be true beyond any doubt is this: it’s the best meal of the day.

Think about it – you can eat pretty much anything you want, it’s perfectly acceptable to boozify your order and, done right, it can set you up for an absolutely cracking day of running around and getting stuff done like the queen you are or laying on the sofa and bingeing ‘Killing Eve’ until you’re in a highly suspicious but nonchalantly lazy food coma like the queen you are.

With that in mind, here are ten spots in the capital worth making a beeline for at the start of the day. Seasonality is big on London menus right now so not every dish listed below may be carried 24/7, 365 but whether it’s on piled onto bread or layered into a bowl, know that every place mentioned is still 100% worth checking out for the tastiest way to start as you mean to go on.

1.Bacon, Egg, Chilli & Cheese on Focaccia at The Dusty Knuckle

Squirrelled away on a Dalston back street with a heritage that began in a Hackney shipping container, this bakery has drawn people regularly to East London on serious bread pilgrimages for five years now.

Set up by three friends looking to create outstanding food whilst helping young people create creatively sustainable lives & careers for themselves, you’re never going to have anything less than one of the best meals of your week there but weekend brunching is a particularly smart option for those with a big appetite.

Fried egg, crispy bacon and a whole muddle of chilli, cheese, spring onions & fresh herbs are piled between slabs of dimpled, golden, pillowy focaccia; messy, crunchy, chewy and delicious, this is the kind of sandwich that demands you lay it down for just a moment to, briefly but reverentially, pay homage to the bakers inside who’ve been there since 4am so that you could rock up to soothe that Friday night head at one of the sunny picnic tables out back come Saturday morning.

Epic my friends, truly epic.

A hot spot for coffee and cake in Victoria…

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If you’ve ever stepped out of Victoria station into the utter chaos that engulfs it and despaired of finding a quiet spot in which to rest your weary feet, feed your hungry tummy and escape the maelstrom of construction, ‘Wicked’ fan girls & frazzled commuters outside, then despair no more because I’m here to tell you that such a place does exist in the form of Coffee Geeks & Friends.

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Opened earlier this year to the delight of a substantial & loyal customer base created through their coffee truck business, Coffee Geeks is the baby of Robin San and Matthew Law, escapees from the corporate workplace turned professional coffee lovers, and is situated in the Cardinal Place Shopping Centre, a place thankfully just moments from both the bus & train station which is being massively invested in.

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Visiting on a sunny Saturday afternoon, there was a pleasantly chilled vibe in the air along with the aroma of decent coffee – sometimes sadly harder to find than you might imagine – and these two things, coupled with stands full of cakes, stacks of magazines – Conde Nast Traveller & Vanity Fair were particularly appreciated as we whiled away an hour with our food & drinks – and a light, airy & minimally modern environment made for a welcome respite from the sort of central London humidity that can make grown men weep. Laptop tappers were using the free Wi-Fi & plug sockets on communal tables leaving us to perch on stools in the window, people watching those scurrying past.

A friendly welcome from staff who were more than happy to answer any questions – trust me, the Kermit coloured pandan cake will leave you with one or two! – was a good start as was having our food & drinks brought over to us. There was a small but delicious choice of sandwiches either on sourdough or in a wrap when we visited…FYI, the smoked salmon on sourdough was light & silky and the roast chicken & bacon wrap was generously filled, they were both made to order and, at £4 each, represented excellent value in a world often stocked with scantily dressed & scandalously over-priced sandwiches.

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If you’re as much of a sucker for freshly made baked goods as I am and the homemade upside down nectarine cake is on the menu, elbow your way to the front of the queue for a soft, naturally sweet & beautifully fresh slice.

The dark chocolate, cranberry, macadamia & sea salt cookie bought for the journey home were also a smart buy, being chewy, light & utterly moreish. Hot chocolate was creamy and actually tasted of cocoa rather than the watery, vaguely chocolatey mess that often gets doled out elsewhere and coffee, from local London roaster Allpress Espresso, was deemed excellent by my coffee snob lunch pal.

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As a non-coffee drinker, I may not know where to go for the best piccolo but I do know the significance of finding a good coffee shop in which to enjoy decent food and well-made drinks at a reasonable price & served with a smile. In a caffeinated landscape of globally impersonal chains, menus that require supreme effort to navigate and products that aren’t actually worth the inflated price-tag they’re stamped with, it’s lovely to find & be able to support a little corner of London that’s independent, inviting & delicious.

Indulging in a swoonsome slice of London’s finest birthday afternoon tea…

Afternoon tea. Tricky thing isn’t it? Not so much the actual consumption because that, after years of full on, fine china training, I’m quite au fait with. Tiny sandwiches, petite cakes, warm scones and teacups pillaged from Downton? Yep. Totally on board with all of that.

No, the tricky thing is finding good afternoon tea, something that’s worthy of your hard earned pennies & treasured free time. A brisk Googling of ‘afternoon tea in London’ will see nearly 25 million hits pop up faster than you can ask ‘one lump or two?’ so when my gorgeous sister V and I were looking for somewhere suitably fabulous but not completely wallet draining to celebrate my birthday, the choice was vast and the word ‘overwhelming’ used on more than one occasion.

Luckily, I can report back that there is indeed a place out there that will treat you like a queen and cater to every one of your champagne tastes but on your lemonade budget…the Soho Hotel. Centrally located off Dean Street, this hotel is one of eight in the Firmdale’s London family and while it’s a mere tiptoe away from the relentless Soho hustle, stepping inside feels like entering the sanctuary you didn’t know you needed until that very minute.

If your idea of heaven is patisserie on a plate, get ready to enter the promised land…

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