The great A A Gill once wrote, “Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life.” We, personally, couldn't agree more. And while the realities of modern life mean breakfast is often nothing more than hastily snaffled Pret croissant, when you do have time to make a meal of it, it pays to do it properly.
Whether ypu're trying to impress at a breakfast business meeting or are treating yourself to a luxurious weekend brunch, how better to begin your day than with breakfast among the clouds? London is home to some seriously impressive rooftop restaurants with expansive breakfast menus to match. Here are some of our favourites.
Seabird at The Hoxton, Southwark
Seabird sits on the 14th floor of The Hoxton hotel in Southwark and is best reserved for those days when you've got off to a bit of a slow start (food service doesn't begin until 11.30am). The rooftop restaurant has been designed by the team behind Williamsburg’s acclaimed Maison Premiere and serves a similarly cool combo of oysters and atmosphere. Settle in among piles of velvet cushions and wafting palms and enjoy panoramic views over London, with the Thames, the Houses of Parliament, St Paul's and The Shard all in scope. The brunch offering spans lavish seafood platters and charcuterie boards, as well as Mediterranean small plates, accented by Portuguese and Spanish flavours. There are no less than five Bloody Mary cocktail options, as well as a zesty marmalade-infused Bucks Fizz. Dishes are served on Instagram-perfect marble tables, adorned with a chic scallop-shell pattern.
Location: The Hoxton, Southwark, 40 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8PB
Closest Station: Southwark
Darwin Brasserie, Sky Garden, The City
One of the three restaurants and bars found at Sky Garden, the public viewing gallery at the top of the Walkie-Talkie, Darwin Brasserie occupies a mezzanine floor set back from the skyscraper’s enormous exhibition windows. The restaurant is a simple, stylish space, encased in its own glass box. It offers views of The Shard and the Southbank, which are pretty spectacular.
The top of the breakfast menu is lined with four cocktail options – a Bellini, Mimosa, Raspberry Dream or Kir Royal. Well, when in Rome (by which we mean the City). You can choose to share a muffin basket or charcuterie and cheese selection before the menu moves onto a list of signature dishes, including smashed avocado toast, the Full English and a vegan option thereof. Other highlights include a stack of buttermilk pancakes, coconut quinoa porridge and the usual assortment of egg-based favourites.
Time: From 12pm on weekdays (11am on Friday) and 8.30am on weekends
Location: Level 36 Sky Garden, 20 Philpot Lane, London EC3M 8AF
Closest station: Monument and Bank
Ting at Shangri-La, The Shard, London Bridge
Occupying levels 34 to 52 of the 95-storey The Shard is the Shangri-La, the second European property (after Paris) from the Hong Kong-based hospitality group. The hotel’s signature restaurant and bar, Ting, takes its name from the Chinese word for 'living room'. It’s located on level 35 and offers hands-down the best view of any of London’s skyscraper-restaurants (the next best vista is seen from Sky Garden).
The Shangri-La Breakfast (as lofty as the restaurant itself at £36) is a sumptuous Western and Asian spread that includes a vast range of continental options plus a choice from the hot dish menu, where highlight include buttermilk waffles, ginger chicken gcongee and French toast 'Hong Kong Style'. Alternatively, you can opt for the Full English. It’ll also set you back £36, but that’s only marginally more than the View from the Shard: a harried, human-conveyor-belt of an experience that doesn’t come with a serving of baked beans and black pudding.
Time: Daily from 7am-11am
Location: Shangri-La, 31 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9QU
Closest Station: London Bridge
Duck & Waffle, The City
Perhaps not best suited for acrophobics, a visit to Duck & Waffle begins with a speedy ear-popping ride to the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate. If you can handle the height, the views will be worth it: perched in the heart of the Square Mile, the building has one of the best vistas this side of The Shard. Short of whipping out your binoculars, opt for a window seat for a chance to spy on revellers in the neighbouring Gherkin. Scott’s and The Ned alumni Elliot Grover heads up the kitchen, where he cooks up British-European dishes based around an all-day dining concept, alongside a dedicated breakfast menu ranging from Greek yoghurt and fruit salad to duck Benedict and Colombian eggs. Don’t miss the restaurant’s namesake waffle dish, a crispy duck leg confit served with a fried egg and lashings of mustard maple syrup.
Time: Daily from 7am-11.30am
Location: Duck & Waffle, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY
Closest Station: Liverpool Street
Located on the 7th floor of The Stratford, the buzzy new hotel located inside Manhattan Loft Gardens on the Olympic Park in Stratford, what Allegra lacks in sky-high views it more than makes up for with chic interiors by Scandi design experts Space Copenhagen and a gorgeous outdoor terrace on the roof of the hotel portion of the building. Helmed by head chef Patrick Powell, brunch is served Friday to Sunday and features a selection of dishes that put a twist on the classics. Think English asparagus with seaweed hollandaise, lobster French toast with smoked butter and potato rosti with smoked sea trout and pickled onion. If you're looking to really indulge, there's also a sleection of brunch desserts including grilled apricto millefeuille and baked custard ice ceam with rhubarb.
Time: Friday to Sunday from 12pm-2.30pm
Location: Allegra, The Stratford, 20 International Way, London E20 1FD
Closest Station: Stratford
Portrait Restaurant, Piccadilly
Temporarily closed while the gallery undergoes major refurbishments, the Portrait Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery is one to make a beeline for when it reopens. Boasting celebrated views stretching from Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square down Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, with such close proximity to the sites you don’t even have to take out a pair of binoculars. Plentiful and courteous staff waft around the lofty space, serving breakfast classics such as chargrilled hanger steak with fried egg, grilled kippers on buttered toast and buttermilk pancakes. And if the view isn't enough, then there are more than 215,000 works of art to peruse below.
Time: Daily from 10am-11.30am (currently closed)
Location: National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2H 0HE
Closest Station: Charing Cross, Leicester Square