The first meal of the day is an inimitable energiser. While rock stars say a black coffee and a Marlboro Red does the job adequately, sensible parties invest in a proper meal to preclude the mid-morning sugar crash and accompanying dark mood. Indeed, a study this week states that a bowl of porridge a day could transform public health. Not only does it provide fibre and minerals while being low in fat and sugar but it contains beta-glucan, which switches off the appetite and feeds healthy bacteria. Oat’s amaze.
Happily, though, while consuming the meal is paramount there are no further rules about breakfast. While the traditional full English is rightly a source of pride, London is open — and the capital’s spread of global breakfasts are having a moment. Silicon Valley nerds can keep their bulletproof coffee: there’s more pleasure to be found than Java laced with butter for breakfast.
For a start, London’s restaurants are launching new menus with an imaginative, global take on traditional breakfasts. Morito — which has restaurants in Exmouth Market and on Hackney Road — launches its Spanish and Middle Eastern breakfast menus tomorrow. At Exmouth Market the hero dish is the full Catalan, a take on the full English: butifarra sausage (a spicy riff on the porky classic), morcilla black pudding and migas (crumbed bread or couscous with spices). There are also eggs scrambled Spanish style, with jamon, mushrooms, or cheese and herbs, and tostadas with homemade jam, or fried tomatoes and cumin with jamon. The Middle Eastern menu on Hackney Road includes Moroccan breads and pancakes, and Turkish menemen eggs: a one-pan fried dish seasoned with spices and layered with chunks of tomato and pepper.
Ottolenghi in Spitalfields also reinvents breakfast classics with rich flavours and spices: its Dutch baby pancakes are reminiscent of the American short-stack but this version is served with poached plums, pistachios, orange yoghurt and mixed berries.
For a Japanese fix go to Koya Bar in Soho, where the full works means fried egg, bacon and shiitake served with noodles or rice, with porridge and miso soup on the side.
“Koya’s breakfast is deservedly famous,” says Catherine Hanly, editor of eating out website Hot Dinners. She also recommends “buccatini carbonara at Palatino in Clerkenwell over a breakfast meeting. In the near future look out for Bala Baya which is about to open a food market in Southwark next month, serving up babka pretzels and pitta pie for breakfast.” Hanly comments that while brunch has been the big-ticket meal for a few years, “the city’s breakfasts are just as exciting”.
Asian breakfast is a trend within the global trend. Hotel Café Royal does a Chinese breakfast: chicken congee served with pickled vegetables and a steamed bun, a selection of dim sum and lotus leaf wrap, served in wooden steamer baskets. Inigo, which opens on Great Windmill Street in mid-October, will serve grab-and-go sushi hand rolls with fresh cured fish.
Nopi has a black rice dish on its breakfast menu: the dark grain is topped with chunks of mango and ripe banana, with coconut milk on the side. It also has peppery Shakshuka, and the Middle Eastern breakfast: sheep labneh, mixed olives, lemon marmalade, tomato salad with tahini, chickpeas, with grilled pitta and zatar focaccia for scooping.
If it’s not a meal without satisfying protein, try Dishoom’s version of the bacon butty, the bacon naan: zealots queue up to get one before work. It also serves akuri, scrambled eggs served with grilled tomato, and cheese on toast laced with chilli and topped with a fried egg. The restaurant is opening its fifth London site in Kensington this year.
For more luxury, go to Claude Bosi at Bibendum. It has just launched a new breakfast menu: the Bibendum LBT — lobster, bacon and onion in a cheese toastie — is the star offering.
Once upon a time Brits used to marvel at German diners having cold-meat platters for breakfast, now we’re converts: the German Power Breakfast at German Gymnasium is one of the menu’s most popular dishes. The dish includes meatloaf, rosti, sauerkraut, fried egg, cheese and a soft roll. And Fischer’s in Marylebone serves grostl: the spinach version is served with paprika potatoes, onion and an egg.
Pop-up Mother Flipper has gone more American than McDonald’s — its breakfast burger is a souped-up Egg McMuffin, stuffed with bacon and skinny fries. And Le Swine has a milk and onion bap with bacon butter, mushroom ketchup and a fried duck egg. Quite the way to jump-start your day.