There are two ways to do brunch. Either hungover, wolfing down a fry up of epic proportions hunched over a plastic table cloth with your sunglasses on. Alternatively it can be a civilised affair, early one Sunday morning, complete with frothy coffees, warm pastries and eggs every which way.
I do the former all too often so, for a change, decided on 'brunch brunch', Balthazar style.
Balthazar London, a French brasserie located on 4-6 Russell Street in Covent Garden, has something for everyone all day long: weekly breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, a la carte dinner and weekend brunch, which is served from 10am until 4pm.
Balthazar London is located in the Old Theatre Museum, Covent Garden
Book in advance to guarantee a spacious dining spot within Balthazar's grand setting, although walk-ins are catered for. Tucked away in a bright corner by the window are four bistro tables for those without a reservation, however these are usually snapped up by 11am. The bar with its many stools is also set in anticipation of a full service, although not ideal.
Healthy option: Avocado on toast with poached eggs
So what's on offer for weekend brunch-goers? A menu full of classic dishes which tick all the boxes: eggs Benedict, Florentine and Royale, and a full English breakfast, priced rather steeply at £15 per person. Also on offer are scrambled eggs with crab, sweetcorn fritters with bacon, and pancakes.
The avocado on toast with perfectly gooey poached eggs is elevated with the addition of a fresh, zingy tomato salsa, while the hazelnut waffles are sinful. The acidity of fresh, warm berries adds a welcome sharpness to the sweet maple syrup. There is an extensive range of fresh fruit juices and coffee just strong enough to kick-start the heart.
Based in Covent Garden's Old Theatre Museum in the flower cellars, this eatery, which opened in February last year by restaurateur Keith McNally and the Caprice Group, feels almost palatial. High ceilings, antiqued walls and oversized, aged mirrors mean Balthazar feels even larger than it already is. Despite its size, the place fills and smooth jazz sounds can just be just heard above the buzz of happy diners.
Almost a year and a half since the eagerly awaited Balthazar first opened its doors in London, it is continuing to attract the punters. One of the must-go restaurants of 2013, Balthazar looks set for continued success this year and beyond.