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The History of Brunch in London: From Victorian Origins to Modern Trends

May 11, 2024

Brunch in London is more than just a meal; it’s a cherished tradition woven into the city’s vibrant culinary culture. Emerging in the early 1900s among the British elite, brunch offered a balance between breakfast and lunch, perfect for leisurely late mornings. Over the decades, it has transformed into a beloved ritual, reflecting London’s dynamic food scene and its residents’ love for socializing.

In post-war Britain, brunch gained popularity as restaurants and cafes embraced this weekend treat. The 1980s and 1990s brought the rise of the gastropub, adding a gourmet spin to this casual meal. Today’s brunch culture blends historical practices with modern flair, making it a central part of city life.

Brunch in London combines the comfort of familiar dishes with innovative twists, offering a perfect blend of tradition and modernity.

Origins and Evolution of Brunch

Brunch began as a leisurely meal combining breakfast and lunch, evolving into a popular social event. Let’s explore its origins, rise in London, and the influence of Guy Beringer.

The Concept of Brunch

Brunch is a portmanteau of “breakfast” and “lunch.” It started as a late morning meal, typically on Sundays, catering to those who wanted a relaxed mealtime. Key elements like eggs Benedict, bagels, and lox became signature dishes.

Brunch in London’s History

In London, brunch started with the British elite in the early 1900s as a fusion meal for late risers. Popularity grew post-WWII, with cafes and restaurants offering brunch menus. By the 1980s, gastropubs added a more casual yet gourmet quality to brunch. This meal became a tradition, appreciated for its variety and relaxed pace.

Influence of Guy Beringer

Guy Beringer, an English author, proposed brunch in his 1895 essay “Brunch: A Plea.” He aimed to help those with Sunday hangovers by offering a single meal replacing both breakfast and lunch. Beringer’s idea focused on convenience and social interaction, making weekends synonymous with leisurely brunches.


Classic Brunch Dishes and Beverages

When you think of brunch in London, a few classic dishes and beverages come to mind. These staples have become integral to the city’s brunch culture, offering a delightful mix of savory and sweet options.

The Full English Breakfast

The Full English Breakfast typically includes bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, and baked beans. This hearty meal is often served with buttered toast and sometimes fried bread, accompanied by a cup of tea or freshly brewed coffee.

Eggs and Their Variations

Eggs are the cornerstone of many classic brunch dishes. You might find Eggs Benedict, featuring poached eggs on English muffins with ham and hollandaise sauce. Other popular options include scrambled eggs, omelettes, and shakshuka, a Middle Eastern dish with poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce.

Pancakes, Waffles, and Sweet Treats

For those with a sweet tooth, brunch often means pancakes or waffles, served with a range of toppings from fresh fruit and whipped cream to maple syrup and bacon. Other sweet treats might include French toast or pastries like croissants and Danish pastries.

Brunch Culture in London

In London, brunch is more than just a meal; it’s a social highlight and a cherished tradition, blending leisurely weekends, great food, and lively atmospheres.

Brunch as a Weekend Tradition

Brunch in London has become a cornerstone of weekend life. By the 1950s and 1960s, more restaurants and cafes began offering brunch as a weekend treat. Today, Sunday brunch is almost a ritual for many Londoners.

The Social Aspects of Brunching

The act of brunching has significant social importance in London. It brings people together, creating a strong sense of community. Brunch spots often feature live music or DJs, enhancing the experience.

Influence of Celebrities and the Media

The popularity of brunch in London has also been boosted by celebrities and the media. Hollywood stars and local influencers often share their brunch experiences on social media, making it a trendy activity.


Modern Brunch Scene

Brunch in London offers an array of options from vegan delights to traditional English favorites. Chefs and restaurants continually innovate, creating diverse and exciting menus that cater to all preferences and dietary needs.

Evolution of the Brunch Menu

The brunch menu in London has evolved to include a mix of classic and modern dishes. Traditional options share the menu with trendy selections such as avocado toast and acai bowls. Chefs bring innovative touches, blending different cuisines and dietary trends.

Brunching Habits and Trends

Brunch in London has become a social event. Sunday brunches are particularly popular, with trends like bottomless brunches adding to the appeal. Restaurants often update their menus to reflect seasonal ingredients.

Global Influences on London’s Brunch

London’s brunch scene is a melting pot of global flavors, with dishes from around the world adapted to suit local tastes.

International Dishes in London’s Brunch

Popular international dishes include Turkish eggs and shakshuka. Avocado toast, a staple from Australian chef Bill Granger, and Mexican-inspired tacos have also found their way onto brunch menus.

Fusion and Innovation in Brunch Selections

Innovation in London’s brunch culture often combines different culinary traditions. Fusion dishes like sushi burritos and kimchi pancakes are popular, reflecting the city’s diverse population and adventurous eaters.

Brunch Etiquette and Practices

Brunch in London is both a social and a culinary experience. Following the correct etiquette ensures a pleasant and enjoyable time for everyone involved.

Expectations at Brunch

Being punctual, dressing appropriately, and having good table manners are essential. Sharing dishes and being mindful of time also contribute to a respectful and enjoyable brunch experience.

The Future of Brunch in London

The future of brunch in London looks promising with exciting new trends and a strong focus on sustainability and local sourcing.

Trends to Watch

Brunch in London is evolving with trends like fusion cuisine, technology integration, and diet-specific options becoming more popular.

Sustainability and Local Sourcing

Many brunch spots are committed to reducing waste and supporting local farmers and producers. Eco-friendly practices and a focus on fresh, local ingredients are becoming more common.


Brunch in London has a rich history and continues to evolve with modern trends. Whether enjoying traditional dishes or innovative new creations, brunch remains a beloved part of the city’s culinary culture, promising a bright and sustainable future.

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