The intermediary between breakfast and lunch has long been a gluttonous favourite for foodies.
The prospect of eggs Benedict, a piece of sourdough and an alcoholic concoction are too much for the average Joe to resist. And thus, brunch emerges as one of our most popular daytime meals.
I recall brunch at college during my University days. Lavish piles of bacon, selections of Danish pastries, and eggs cooked to perfection. Every bread variety you could ever desire, freshly squeezed orange juice, ripe avocados and mini chipolata sausages, needless to say everybody anticipated Sunday 11am brunch with relish.
Emerging into the ‘real’ world of mortgages, astronomical rents, the essential weekly shop and work pressures, there is another issue that we must contend with: where shall we brunch?
Finding the perfect location for brunch is difficult. Most cafés do their own take on it, depending on how ‘hipster’ or ‘mainstream’ the institution believes themselves to be: Mexican style, vegan, organic, juice served in jam jars, eggs served in plastic bowls and pancakes with strawberries served on slabs of slate.
And then there is the décor. With the abundance of cafés that clutter the high street, every establishment wants to differentiate itself. You may be required to perch on a stool, rest your posterior on a pouf or to share your eggs with a variety of fury felines. Brunch has become the foodies equivalent of the Tate Modern: ingenious, contemporary and utterly perplexing.
The Andaz Hotel on Liverpool Street’s signature brunch dish is chicken legs with marmite, while at Hawksmoor you can treat yourself to a feast of meaty delights including grilled bone marrow, short rib bubble and unlimited toast. Pachamama’s brunch menu takes inspiration from traditional Andean dishes, all served with a smattering of edible flowers. With the plethora of befuddling brunch options available, you shouldn’t overlook a simple classic.
The Henry Root in Chelsea is a brunch haven. First off, there’s the décor. An oasis of soft light, crisp white tablecloths, and myriads of colourful framed photos line the walls. It retains that wonderful balance of quirky and classic interiors, evident in other gluttonous establishments such as Curtains Up in Barons Court and Gordon’s Wine Bar in Embankment.
The friendly staff at Henry Root greet you instantly upon arrival. In a world of smartphones and social media enthusiasts, sometimes simple eye contact and a ‘hello’ can have the greatest impact.
Despite it being a busy Saturday morning we were shown a table immediately, and ordered coffees. A side note here. The British, no matter how hard they try, are not masters of the roasted craft. The milk is often burnt, and the coffee beans are rarely fresh and stored properly. The result is a sour tasting hot watery drink rather than the smooth blend of milk and roasted coffee bean that we experience with Italian baristas. It is an acknowledged fact. The English are tea lovers. Their first and only real love is tea, and coffee is often neglected as the poor relation.
In my five months in London I could name two establishments that serve drinkable coffee. I can happily acknowledge that this has expanded to three. The barista at Henry Root delivers consistency with the right amount of coffee to milk ratio, so much so that one cup hardly suffices.
The menu had some good staples. I ordered the egg hollandaise with salmon. My boyfriend had the avocado and bacon burger, and my mum ordered the smashed avocado. My mother’s delicate Saturday morning constitution couldn’t handle the staple egg with her avocado, and our waiter was all too obliging in her request for spinach instead.
The portions were not overly large, but what one would expect from a ‘lighter meals’ section. The hollandaise sauce was rich, but not to the point of excess, and they didn’t skimp on the salmon. My boyfriend’s brioche burger was stuffed with bacon and egg with a glaze of tomato salsa, and mum’s spinach was cooked to perfection. Charred feta on sourdough with avocado was a nice touch, however it would have been nice to see more than one piece of bread. It felt a tad stingy.
Our waiter was attentive and frequently returned with a decorative water jug. Many people underestimate the importance presence of water on the table, the refill often gets neglected. It’s really nice not to have to constantly ask for a top-up.
The Henry Root in Chelsea is a near perfect brunch spot. Quirky enough for the young Instagram-loving Chelsea crew (Millie Mackintosh and the like) but also suitable for young families and ‘ladies who lunch’.
With the competition for the perfect brunch in its prime, Henry Root delivers a first rate menu. Featuring beautiful decor, friendly staff and fresh food (and affordable to boot), Henry Root is your perfect breakfast spot.