Freelance travel writer and Policy Adviser for the UK government living in Brixton. View my blog www.my-big-fat-carbon-footprint.blogspot.com for ethical and budget travel inspiration
Published March 25th 2013
Best veggie brunch London
Vegetarians are so used to getting an equally good deal when it comes to dining out, that we forget sometimes that breakfasts and brunches can be a little more challenging to navigate.
Somewhere might offer excellent meaty pork sausages, bacon rashers, fried eggs and grilled mushrooms, but what does a vegetarian get instead? Blood clot wet red tomato, soggy grilled mushroom and a friend egg. Watch out, because often this egg has been cooked on the same grill as the meat, so even that's not safe. It's fair to say that vegetarian breakfasts are usually demoted to the ultra healthy variety: granola, fresh fruit salad and slices of wholemeal toast. Great, but I can have these at home, which is why I go out for breakfast. Don't give me granola, give me grease, taste and fat.
OK so it's classical and not great quality. But, it's wonderfully cheap (£2.99) and has 981 calories-perfect. Astonishingly, it is more calorific that the meat breakfast, which only has 800 calories. It offers a vegetarian sausage, two fried eggs, baked beans, hash browns, flat mushrooms and half a grilled tomato. Plus, Wetherspoons are absolutely everywhere. If you need a little more class to your breakfast, try Lloyds. It's a pound more expensive for breakfast, but you get the same feeling of immense calorific satisfaction.
SW9 Bar Brunch, Brixton:
My housemates at the weekend demanded eggs and a vegetarian breakfast. One of them also required bacon. SW9 bar was the outcome. Located in Brixton, just opposite the tube, SW9 offers 'fluffy omelettes' (spinach, red pepper and pesto) for £5.95, Eggs Florentine with hollandaise and a vegetarian English breakfast for £7.20. This comprises of 2 hash browns, 2 slices of toast, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, beans and two fried eggs. This gets my vote mainly because it also offers a Buck Fizz champagne brunch at the weekend, but also because it doesn't persist in throwing nasty vegetarian sausages onto every plate going. Wonderful. Click here to visit the website.
The Regency Café, Pimlico
So we're heading into traditional territory now. The Regency Café was founded in 1946 and was featured in the film Layer Cake and countless photo-shoots and adverts. Is as traditional as you can get and reminds me of the northern fry-up cafés you can still go to along the A1 on the way up to Scotland. The food is as traditional as you can get, and incredibly cheap. Vegetarians, although we're not catered for, it's easy to build your own brunch from the items on offer.
Huge grilled tomatoes, heaps of mushrooms and, best of all, the largest slab of bubble and squeak you will ever encounter for only 90p. Black and cream tiles, pictures on the walls from when it opened, and the standard assortment of condiments: ketchup, mustard, vinegar, salt. Nothing fancy, just good, honest, British food.
This choice couldn't be a more extreme choice from my Wetherspoon's option. Nopi, founded by Yottam Ottolenghi's team who are also behind his bakeries and cookbook, serves a mix of both Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine. As a result, only one of the exceptionally interesting breakfast items actually contains meat. Nopi is a fabulously bustling and busy place, but the quality of the ingredients and the meals themselves more than meet punter's expectations.
Anyone who has eaten in Thailand will relish the black rice, coconut milk and mango option and the French toast with orange and star anise was absolutely heavenly. More traditional dishes such as Shakshuka sit comfortably with the Middle Eastern side of the menu, while traditional pastries are also served. Click here to visit the website.
Fleet River Bakery, Holborn
This is expensive. And it is not a full cooked breakfast option. But the fat is present in bucket loads as this little bakery offers melt in the mouth croissants and fantastically indulgent pain au chocolat: any pastry that has more filling than flake is really a winner for me, especially if it's chocolate. The lattes are served in deep mugs and are luxuriously strong and creamy. The prices are steep for what you get (brace yourselves: £2.70 for a flat white) but if you time it right, the flaky pastries and excellent coffee should hit the hangover spot just as well as any of the fried breakfasts above. Click here to visit the website.