The best brunch spots in Notting Hill
Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove are packed with great brunch options to suit every mood
Portobello road is packed on Fridays and Saturdays when the market is in full swing, creating a lively (and heavily touristed) thoroughfare for people watching. Brunch options on Portobello are busy and buzzy, but the further north you go up to Golborne road, the more relaxed and local things get. Golborne has a concentration of great options that rarely have a wait, and aren’t packed with the instagram hoardes you’ll find further south. In the heart of Notting Hill, chic Westbourne Grove is the see and be seen street for shopping and eating – the quality of the food is almost beside the point – but there are some decent options if you’re willing to pay a bit more for the scene.
My idea of a perfect morning involves poached eggs with avocado, a cappuccino, the latest New Yorker, and whatever novel I’m reading at the moment. I am constantly on the lookout for the best places to do all of the above and herewith are my favorites in my new neighbourhood.
Bluebelles of Portobello – hands down my favorite. They have the best food, coffee, cakes (the earl grey cake is insanely delicious and I daydream about it), and it’s a friendly and relaxed neighborhood staple. I’m amazed it’s not on more Notting Hill lists but then again I’m happy to keep it somewhat under the radar. Absent are the annoying lines, obnoxious attitude, and mediocre food that plague many an over-hyped brunch spot. Bluebelles has only a dozen or so tables, including a few outside on the sidewalk that are glorious on a sunny day. The inside is a cozy place to come with a friend or alone, over a book. I get the ‘green breakfast’ (poached eggs, mashed avocado and feta on toast) every single time with a side of mushrooms.
Lowry & Baker is just across the street from Bluebelles on the same calm Northern stretch of Portobello Road near Goldborne Road. Just past the hubbub of the market, this area is buzzing with families and people from the neighborhood every weekend but not with tourists wielding selfie sticks. It’s the charming, relaxed end of Portobello it’s where I head most weekends when I’m in town. Lowry & Baker feels like popping in to your friend’s house for a meal. There’s charming mismatched china, and a tiny open kitchen where the harried staff prepare meals off a hot plate that exceed anything I can make in a fully equipped kitchen. I tend to go to Bluebelles for the green breakfast and come to Lowry & Baker when I want meat; they have a poached egg and prosciutto situation that’s fantastic, as well as a chorizo, yogurt, poached egg dish that I love. From what I can tell locals are pretty evenly divided in their loyalties to these two spots.
Hotshoe cafe is the too-cool-for-school coffee shop featuring photobooks and rotating exhibitions. It’s on the same block as Bluebelles and Lowry & Baker, and serves tasty dark roast espresso drinks. It wouldn’t be out of place in East London as it’s hipper, artier, and edgier than a lot of cafes in the neighborhood.
Electric Diner is a Notting Hill staple and the heart of Portobello Road mayhem. Another feather in the cap of the Soho House group, there’s a mix of families and prams, cool kids coming in from Electric House upstairs, and aging neighborhood musicians. But the food delivers, the ambience is lively and fun, and I can always get a seat. This is another spot that makes me feel as though I’m in Manhattan, although there it would have twice the attitude and possibly twice the price as well. The three outdoor tables or the window seats facing Portobello are ideal if you want to watch the carnival outside, while the large leather booths inside are perfect for brunch with friends or people with children. When I’m feeling indulgent, I go for the cheeseburger with an egg on, a side of sweet potato fries, and no regrets. I also love the 90s hip hop they’re often blasting.
Snaps and Rye – another one of our favorites on Golborne road, we come here for a dose of authentic Danish hygge, and the best scrambled eggs we’ve had in London. The eggs are rich and creamy, and alongside cured salmon, rich butter, and Danish rye bread, it’s one of the best breakfast dishes in Notting Hill. We also love their fresh pressed juices and nordic yoghurt and granola bowls. Don’t miss the display case filled with authentic breakfast smørrebrød(click here for our weekend tips tasting smørrebrød in Copenhagen) and pastries. The ambience and staff are lovely, and the quality of the ingredients and food is impeccable, and good value for money. This is a neighborhood staple and features heavily on ‘best of’ lists.
Pedlar’s serves solid lattes and cortados (Allpress supplies their espresso) in an eclectic design shop ambience. There’s a tightly curated selection of books, stationary, notepads, vintage wear and curiosities, that could easily be cliché if it wasn’t so well executed. The staff are friendly and sincere, they recognize you when you come into the cafe than once, and they don’t disturb you when you sit with your laptop or book in their lovely back room for hours on end. This small edifice just off Portobello road is the tip of the iceberg as they claim to be the ‘best virtual flea market in Britain.’ Their online shop is well worth a visit, as is the owner’s podcast The Mavericks where he chats with a variety of people who have ‘swum against the tide and done something truly unusual and inspiring.’ I feel part of the neighbourhood when I come to Pedlar’s which is all you really want from your local coffee shop isn’t it?
Golborne Deli is a neighbourhood staple and probably has the best ambience and people watching of any of the cafes up on the North end off Portobello. They have a dozen sidewalk tables that are packed every weekend, and a cozy and relaxed interior cafe that’s a fine place to meet up with friends, or hold court alone. Candidly, I’ve never had a brunch meal here that I liked, and each time I feel as though I’m missing the hype. Perhaps their lunch salads and sandwiches are better? For now, this one is on the ‘ambience only’ list for me, although plenty of others disagree.
Pizza East is more of a dinner place but it bears mentioning that they do have smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, and a great avocado toast. Their pizzas are the best in the neighbourhood and if you’re lucky and ask nicely you might be able to get them to throw an egg on one for you. The outdoor tables are always lively here. It’s owned by the Soho House group and always makes me feel like I’m at a Keith McNally restaurant in New York (RIP Pulino’s, my favourite place to consume an entire pizza with egg to myself while reading the latest fashion magazines from their stocked magazine racks).
202 London is a concept store and cafe with a super scene-y brunch on posh Westbourne Grove. I love the space, and the store downstairs sells beautiful and unusual clothes from more obscure Italian labels than most boutiques you’ll find (they only stock Italian designers). The food however, is hit and miss, and definitely more expensive than other cafes in the neighbourhood. I’ve had disappointing scrambles, a kedgeree that’s nowhere near as good as Snaps + Rye , but have now settled on the fig, prosciutto, and warm goat cheese salad with toasted pistachios for my regular order. There is also a slightly stressful queuing situation where waiting for an outdoor sidewalk table (which are the only tables worth it in my view) involves a different line, and speaking to a different person than the long indoor queue. 202 is particularly popular with French, Italian, and Spanish people in the neighbourhood and the loafer-wearing, air kissing groups on weekends make for great people watching.
Blend, the coffee shop inside the Jigsaw store on Westbourne Grove, was one of my favourite cappuccinos in London but it’s recently changed into an Antipodea to great fanfare. The coffee is still good, although I can no longer get one of the outdoor seats when I come, and the takeaway service is glacially slow. If you’ve got time to kill, the new menu has juices, smoothies, and a variety of healthy Australian brunch options that seem to be all the rage in London these days. I had high hopes for the Turkish Eggs (poached eggs with yoghurt, chilli butter, and toasted pide), and it was good but not great.
Eggbreak has fantastic food, and I would come here much more often if it wasn’t such a faff. At the southern end of Notting Hill, down at Notting Hill Gate, Eggbreak can be spotted by the crowd permanently waiting outside. The menu has a dozen things I want to order (with more interesting ingredients than your average and ubiquitous avocado toast – although they have that too). I’ve never had a bad meal here, the price is fair, and the quality of the food and coffee (and instagram-worthiness) are all on point. The hard working host manages the line, and at least you can leave once you’ve put your name down and receive a text message when your table is ready. I like to go around the corner to The Hillgate pub and get a mimosa or a coffee and sit outside while I wait.
Farm Girl Cafe holds a special place in my heart as it’s where I had my first meal in London directly after landing off my overnight flight. Groggy, jet lagged, excited, and exhausted, I wandered up Portobello road from the Airbnb I was staying in to try this cafe I’d discovered on Instagram. (I actually love finding cafes and travel recommendations from Instagram and have found some amazing places that way). It was midday on a weekday when I rolled into Farm Girl Cafe and claimed a comfortable seat, an important fact to note as I’ve unfortunately never been able to return since. Every weekend crowds of brunch patrons queue up outside the little gate where you enter the cafe from Portobello road. I can’t attest to how quickly the line moves since I haven’t had the patience to make an attempt but I hope to get back there because the food, coffee, atmosphere, and staff were all delightful.
Granger and Co. I’m just going to come out and say it. I think this place is hugely overrated and the brunch I had was perhaps my worst meal in London to date. Although I should note the staff were lovely. And the ambiance is ok. Blasphemy given Granger is ubiquitous on every ‘best brunch’ list I’ve seen. Loyal queues form every weekend outside, but I feel like I’m missing something here. I would never wait in the queue (the first time I went I was alone, marched to the front as a party of one, and snagged a lone seat at the bar without waiting), so it’s unlikely I’ll get back any time soon to give it another go.
Coffee Plant is the least bougie and 3rd wave coffee I drink in London, but I do drink it often. It’s not instagram-ready, rather it’s filled neighborhood locals (a real cast of characters), and has a local bulletin board that harkens back to a simpler time. It reminds me of the kind of cafes I first started ordering lattes from in the 90s, ones that look like a poetry slam could be going on at any time, a place where people wrote in notebooks but no one had laptops. A bit of nostalgia, authenticity, and caffeine buzz all in one.
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