As a meal, brunch has become a firm staple for the weekend, and the capital now proliferates with restaurants offering something resembling a hearty breakfast after a long lazy lie-in in many of its forms, from American waffle mountains to Israeli shakshuka or that hotel staple, eggs benedict.
The latest – though not necessarily the first – of the capital’s Japanese eateries to join the brunch bandwagon is Kiru, the contemporary fine dining establishment in the quiet King’s Road backwater of Chelsea Green. The concept here is the creation of executive chef, Taiki Maruyama, carrying seven years of Nobu pedigree forged mastering the techniques of Pan-European cuisine.
Brunch, in my mind, suggests a meal eaten sometime around 11am. Curious, then, that Kiru’s starts at 1pm. That’s, err, lunch, isn’t it? Still, what’s semantics – and timekeeping – among friends. The key thing here is that it’s served until 6pm and, more importantly, it’s bottomless. Bottomless food, bottomless drinks, including prosecco and sake.
Having offloaded our infant with a willing sister-in-law (I should caveat that children are more than welcome but there are some things that can be far better enjoyed without a fidgety 3-year old bleating Peppa Pig in your ear, particularly early on a Sunday), Mrs L and I arrive in a bustling and lively Kiru.
The set-up is immediately inviting. For a fine dining establishment, it’s informal and understated, the staff are breezy but helpful. There is definitely something about the weekend to its mood and we settle into swift glass of prosecco and a brief outline of what’s what.
Over the next hour (we’re permitted two, but being ravenous, we’re replete in half the time), we’re treated to a Smorgasbord – crowbarring another brunch reference into this review, clearly – of Japanese classics, many with a twist.
There is an element of ‘production line’ buffet about the cold starters at the bar but when the white fish truffle ponzu and tuna avocado tacos are as good as these they can keep churning them out however they like. Miso soup and edamame compliment the range of freshly rolled sushi and a hot starter of spectacular barbecue pork steamed buns and by the time that’s swept up, I’m already at capacity with the mains still to come. It does say ‘bottomless’ and one must come prepared.
Here, Mrs L makes the wiser move; tempura vegetables arrive as our glasses are topped up again. And they’ve gone to town on what to temper; I spotted slivers of sweet potato and even a nettle leaf braced in batter as light as the bubbles in her prosecco. I should have gone with the same, but couldn’t resist the pork belly; slow-cooked over 12 hours and dished up with a balsamic miso and apple salsa. Well, it is Pan-European Japanese.
The abundance and delights on what was offered there may be but I was quizzical about one small detail; as inventive as these dishes were, none felt particularly brunch-y. I might have expected tamagoyaki omelettes or something similarly egg-based, but the menu feels more mainstay; the omnipresent chicken and salmon teriyaki being the other dishes on offer.
Frankly, though, whether technically brunch or not, an endless offer of Japanese cuisine, washed down with a glass or two of prosecco and a sip of sake, and my Sundays are made.
And I haven’t even mentioned the sorbet.
Kiru. 2 Elystan Street, Chelsea Green, London, SW3 3NS. The 3-course ‘bottomless’ brunch is available on Sundays between 1-6pm and is priced at £50pp for a two-hour sitting with bottomless drinks, and £20pp for those aged 12-years and under plus soft drinks. For more information, and to book, visit www.kirurestaurant.com.