In our second instalment of a new mini series, CLAIRE WILSON, aka The Brunch Hunter, shares with Crumbs readers her top five places worthy of a serious brunch blow-out
Whatever the occasion, be it birthdays, anniversaries or surviving another working week, treating yourself to an indulgent brunch is one of the best ways to celebrate. Brunch is the perfect excuse to gather friends, family and wayward children for a day’s worth of dining in one sitting. It’s like dinner out without the hangover (unless, like me, you see no shame in booze before or indeed instead of your first meal of the day).
Though it’s controversial, I’m partial to an early start, allowing me the pick of the tables and the opportunity to stockpile all the newspaper supplements I can get my mitts on.
Once an un-loved Victorian outdoor pool with questionable health benefits, The Lido has since been transformed into a truly refined place for a spot of breakfast. The cultured Clifton set come for a bracing dip while the rest of us tuck into plates of grilled bacon and dandelion on sourdough, wood-fired kippers and granola so delicious it can’t possibly be as worthy as you convince yourself it is. The staff are friendly, there are herbal infusions aplenty and the coffee is superb – just beware of the Speedo-clad crotches ambling past as you dine.
Price: from £2.25 to £7.50 (kippers & toast).
River Cottage Canteen
The food at the River Cottage Canteen is as seasonal and well sourced as you’d expect from the benevolent Fearnley-Whittinstall. And that’s no bad thing. The bread is made on site, the coffee locally ground and you can devour plates of bacon and black pudding without feeling guilty the next time you watch Babe. Much more restaurant than café (or, indeed, canteen) the staff are on hand to hang up coats and bring you drinks as you peruse the menu. Despite the famous name above the door, it’s reasonably priced with most meals around the £5 mark, though it’s so good you’re likely to want seconds, or even thirds.
Price: from £1.50 to £8.50 (Canteen breakfast).
Bringing a dash of class to the comfortably ramshackle Gloucester Road, Tart delivers plates of beautifully cooked brunch with an English bent. Busy staff soft-shoe around small tables to a soundtrack straight from the forties, the ingredients are from Bristol and the surrounds and there are excellent vegetarian options – the potato rösti is worth forgoing your sausages for alone. Better still, the freshly made cakes that line the bar all come with enough cream to coat a cat in. For those unaccustomed to an early start, opt for Sundays when brunch is served until 2pm.
Price: from £3.95 to £6.90 (full English).
The Riverstation boasts one of the nicest views in Bristol, taking in the daily potterings of wind-chapped boat folk and shifty-looking swans through the great big windows at the back. In summer diners will head for the balcony; in cooler climes there are giant leather sofas to hole up in with the papers. Breakfast will suit all tastes, with classics (bacon rolls, muesli, fresh pastries) mixed in with some more exotic options (duck eggs on toast, smoked haddock risotto). Best of all, it’s all served way past lunchtime. It’s a popular spot for wedding receptions, so do phone ahead to avoid feeling like the poor cousin left out in the cold.
Price: from £3.50 to £8.50 (smoked haddock risotto).
The Treehouse at Harptree Court, East Harptree
Admittedly not one for your regular Saturday morning feed, The Treehouse remains one of the finest breakfast venues yet. Set in the boughs of an ancient laurel, this handmade beauty looks out over acres of estate towards the regal Harptree Court, its sweeping balcony allowing you to drink in the stars on a clear night. It’s living outdoors, with none of the discomfort: there’s a woodburner, copper bath and even WiFi to make you feel right at home. Breakfast preparation is for the first to rise with bacon and eggs, porridge and fresh bread all on hand; make an effort to get up with the sunrise and it will be a breakfast you’ll never forget.
Price: from £250 per night (including breakfast).