As promised, the first of our London brunch venue reviews....
As an Aussie who now calls London home, I’m always keen to seek out a taste of home. I’ve been a long-time fan of Bill Granger, remembering halcyon days over his signature ricotta hotcakes, eggs-but-not-as-you-know-them and carefully made coffee (in case you’re late to the party, Australians take coffee very seriously) served at big communal tables in Darlinghurst in Sydney, reading newspapers shoulder-to-shoulder with locals and out-of-towners who quickly adopted his easy-going approach to food and dining.
Having regularly brunched at his Notting Hill outpost, Granger & Co, last Sunday, we dragged ourselves away form the duvet and the (of course) silk PJs to pay a visit to his newest base in Kings Cross which overlooks King’s Boulevard, the walkway that leads from Kings Cross to Granary Square (worth visiting for the fountains alone). The restaurant catches the sun from morning to afternoon and the tables outside on the piazza will surely become one of London’s most squabbled over outdoor eating and drinking spots if (when) those hazy summer evenings ever arrive. We were there on one of those particularly frosty, sunny winter mornings that London does so well; the restaurant’s glass facade makes it open, welcoming and bright inside, hitting Granger’s aim that every restaurant of his reflects the “spirit we think of as ‘Australian’: sunny, easy-going and generous.” The interior is slick, slick, slick: salmon-coloured marble table tops (want), olive leather banquette seating (want) and table lamps with a vaguely 70s vibe (want).
Onto the food and drinks. Granger is known for “Aussie breakfasts” so it goes without saying that the flat whites, one of the most integral parts of an antipodean brekkie/brunch, are killer and the bloody mary with wasabi and lime is a more than effective Sunday wake-up call. I shouldn't have had two. Too early.
If you’ve never tried them before, give the famous ricotta hotcakes a go, they're the reason people queue. They really are little rounds of cloud-like heaven topped with a honeycomb butter that I’m convinced has magical qualities - it tastes like nothing else on earth but enables you to actually watch as your waistline expands. Another classic, the toasted rye with avocado, lime and coriander topped with a poached egg is now a little clichéd but is perfectly executed.
Our crew of four ordered across the menu. The other Aussie at our table went for toasted coconut bread that he reported was packed with coconut flavour, lightly toasted with a slightly crisp exterior and crumbly, cinnamon-coloured middle. Our very virtuous Brit mate ordered the almond milk chia seed pot, mango & coconut yoghurt. He lauded it for its perfect texture and loved the richness of the yoghurt, well counter-balanced by the mango. Mr Fox ordered the sweet corn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon. He pronounced them, “*expletive* good” and a close rival to those at Lantana, our other favourite Aussie brunch venue (review here soon). I went for the buckwheat bowl with poached egg, goat’s yoghurt, rose harissa, avocado and sprouts. The colours are brilliantly non-breakfast – the deep red rose harissa looks fantastic on the plate and its complex Middle Eastern flavours – smokiness combined with heat - not only make a surprisingly good partner to eggs, they add real depth, elevating the dish a good way away from the usual brunch fare. But then, that’s the beauty of Bill Granger’s brunch menu – you can stay on, or go off-piste. Granger & Co do new classics really, really well whilst also managing to offer something for those of us whose brekkie-time taste buds are feeling like venturing beyond bacon and (very good) eggs.
All in all, this is the way to eat brunch. The room is a winner, the food is beautifully cooked, the service by the mostly Aussie wait staff is charming and just attentive enough and that bloody mary is bloody good. We’re loyal fans. Go early to avoid the throngs but queue if you need to.
Dreamy salmon-coloured marble table tops.