There are many vogues in London eating and drinking at the moment, and they are far too numerous to list here. One that can be celebrated by trenchermen and ladies-who-lunch of all shapes and sizes is a hugely welcome addition to the capital’s dining scene, and it is the rise of the bottomless brunch. Initially a Dubai invention, the advantage of going out in London is that the time limit is usually two hours, which means that one is not going to get hog-whimperingly drunk but instead enjoy a pleasant and civilised experience in a range of interesting surroundings. We visited two contrasting places and can confirm that this new tradition is one of the most enjoyable that we’ve encountered, in all its varieties.
Little Bat, Islington
Little Bat has a deservedly excellent reputation as a cocktail bar; winner of the Design My Night awards for best new venue and best bar in Angel, it lurks solicitously off Upper Street, ready to entice the thirsty and hungry into its stylish echelons. On Saturday lunchtime, when we visited, the brunch menu was in full swing, offering some very pleasing twists on old favourites; the cauliflower and cheddar croquettes offer a variant on mac ‘n’ cheese, and the chickpea and potato parmesan truffle rosti, which arrives complete with bacon and poached egg on request, is suitably binge-worthy. Should one still have an appetite after this, the pancakes are outrageously good, but you’ll want to be travelling with a friend who has a similarly enormous appetite.
There are a fascinating-sounding range of standard cocktails, but the ‘bottomless’ aspect of the brunch comes for an additional £25, and allows an endless flow of mimosas, Bloody Marys and glasses of prosecco to come to your table. For our money, the prosecco was slightly over-sweet on its own, but the mimosas (complete with fresh orange juice, naturally) were perfect, and the Bloody Marys were the stuff of corpse-reviving joy. The trick here? The addition of Marmite, apparently, which was not a trick I’d ever encountered before but I shall now rip off shamelessly. This Little Bat is firmly on the ball.
For more information about Little Bat Bar, including details of brunch, visit www.littlebatbar.com.
Oblix East, The Shard
London’s highest bottomless brunch, situated in the dizzying heights of the 32ndfloor of the Shard, is also one of its best. Clocking in at a not-insubstantial £80 per head, this does include as much excellent Chandon sparkling wine as you can drink, unlimited access to the comprehensive buffet and a hot main course. (For £5 less, one can stick to red or white wine.) The rigmarole of arrival, complete with airport-style security scanners, is tiresome but necessary; the theatricality of walking into the stylishly appointed Oblix, followed by the jaw-dropping views over London, and beyond, is a treat and a half, especially if you manage to get one of the coveted window tables. Seeing the city from hundreds of feet in the air is a rare and oddly affecting experience; there is something fascinating about seeing the way in which decades, even centuries, of expansion and building have created a place both disparate yet (mostly) cohesive.
These views and opinions would be of little consequence if the food wasn’t top notch, which thankfully it is. The buffet offers as much or as little as you want of good-quality deli items, of which the best were probably the truffled devilled eggs, the fine focaccia and a moreish prawn cocktail. While my wife wasn’t entirely bowled over by her crab and scrambled eggs on sourdough – too dry, apparently- my rib-eye steak with duck egg and chips was something very fine indeed, and the desserts and cheese board are enough to satisfy even the most Brobdingnagian of appetites; I especially enjoyed their variation on a Jaffa cake. One leaves after one’s allotted two-hour slot thoroughly sated, and as you descend the lift back into the real world, it’s hard not to sigh.
For more information about Oblix East at The Shard, visit www.oblixrestaurant.com.