American breakfast in London: classic American waffles with banana, dark chocolate, coconut cream and maple syrup
London has always looked Stateside for food influences – from the rise of southern-style BBQ food to pimped out artisan toast (see Phil’s City Kitchen: Exploring the Deep-Southern Food Trend with Guest Chef Gwen Sampé and Favourite Forks: Toasting the Toast Trend) America is the cool kid brother we secretly admire for their wonderful and at-times wacky taste.
This long-running special relationship paired with London’s recent obsession with all things breakfast has created an immensely enjoyable food trend that is gaining momentum throughout the city…the American breakfast/brunch.
Just juice: a more modern twist on the American breakfast at Sea Containers – juice with kale, ginger, peach, lemon and raw honey
The original entry of this kind to the London foodscape is Duck & Waffle’s duck and waffle, a Deep-South American import that really shook up the scene.
The trendsetting dish for American breakfasts: duck & waffle at Duck & Waffle
A sublime combination of confit crisp duck leg, fluffy golden waffle, duck egg and mustardy, treacle-y maple syrup, Duck & Waffle’s Dan Doherty mastered the sweet-and-salty sensation that Americans create so very well.
And, uniquely, they’ve taken on American hours too – anyone with a hankering for Duck & Waffle’s eponymous dish can turn up to their restaurant on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, any time, and have their fill. Breakfast isn’t just for breakfast anymore.
A Deep-Southern style American breakfast: fried and brined chicken with waffle and maple syrup at The Lockhart
Mississippi-born chef Brad McDonald, from London’s The Lockhart, has had success with a similar offering – fried chicken and waffle with maple syrup – on the restaurant’s Southern brunch menu. Some of the best fried chicken we’ve ever had – packed with flavour, crispy on the outside and with a real juiciness on the inside achieved through brining – you might as well be sitting on Auntie Mae’s porch is South Carolina.
And then there’s the rest of the menu to consider – Brad is unapologetically Southern about his approach (and rightly so), bringing to the people of Marylebone his version of the American breakfast, including shrimp and grits, house-cured and candied pork-jowl bacon and scrambled eggs, and buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy. Biscuits, if you’re not familiar, are America’s answer to scones – always plain and savoury, they’re floury, fluffy, warm, and fully reminiscent of the comforts of home.
Another Deep-Southern American breakfast at The Lockhart: shrimp and grits
Heading up north, or south, to Mayfair, a New-York style American breakfast awaits, at the immaculately elegant pre-war art-deco themed Colony Grill Room at The Beaumont Hotel, from creators of famed London restaurants The Delaunay, The Wolseley and Fischer’s, Corbin & King.
American-breakfast heaven at the Colony Grill Room at The Beaumont
As with all the Corbin & King establishments, The Beaumont transports you to a forgotten era – and this time, it’s via the hugely inspirational but entirely fictional James “Jimmy” Beaumont, a charismatic American with friends on both sides of the Atlantic who fled New York to open The Beaumont in 1926.
Jimmy Beaumont’s transatlantic character informs the attitude of the Colony Grill Room too, with a menu that’s an old-school, stylish delight, in which you really can’t go wrong.
As Tom Parker Bowles excellently summates in the Daily Mail, ‘the menu is there to cheer and seduce, rather than preen and impress. It’s about old-school comfort, uttered in three distinct accents – cut-glass English (potted shrimps, lamb cutlets, Shepherd’s pie), New York drawl (hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs and oysters Rockefeller) and old-school Frog (Vichyssoise soup, halibut bonne femme).’
An elevated take on an American-breakfast classic – caramelised grapefruit
The pink grapefruit, is an elevated and elegantly presented breakfast classic – ever-so-slightly caramelised with just the right amount of brown sugar, and the Eggs Arlington, poached eggs with a buttery hollandaise topped with chives and paprika, wrapped with excellent quality smoked salmon on top of an English muffin to which all other English muffins should be compared – is faultless.
A perfectly executed American breakfast at the Colony Grill Room: Eggs Arlington
It would be rude not to try their pancakes, so we tried both varieties; buttermilk topped with crispy bacon and buttermilk with fresh berries and a sweet Ricotta.
The former is a marvel – a simple dish executed exceptionally well, and championing the aforementioned sweet-and-salty sensation; with the crunchy saltiness of the bacon and the comforting sweetness of pancakes topped with maple syrup. The latter has an impactful presentation – what can beat a stack of pancakes with overflowing berries? – but the sweetened Ricotta intensely overrides the buttermilk pancakes and berries, leaving the diner with more of a cheesecake-y dessert rather than a classic American breakfast.
A sweet treat American breakfast at the Colony Grill Room: buttermilk pancakes with sweetened Ricotta and berries
Saving the best for last, the duck-egg hash with corned beef was the team favourite – golden and crisp potato with chunks of well seasoned corned beef, topped with a duck egg and its tempting wobbling yolk – this is American breakfasts done right.
The much-buzzed-about new restaurant Sea Containers in the Mondrian Hotel in Blackfriars is said to serve dishes that celebrate the golden age of transatlantic travel, with respected New York chef Seamus Mullen at the helm.
Sea Containers has designed an innovative breakfast menu, with the Farmers Full Breakfast, containing all the English classics plus creamed greens and potato galette, plus buttermilk waffles with dark chocolate, coconut cream, banana and maple syrup, and the Egg Sammy, a sunny-side-up egg, bacon, jack cheese, avocado, coriander and chipotle relish on a brioche bun.
Egg Sammy: a transatlantic take on American breakfast at Sea Containers
With a beautiful, modern Tom-Dixon designed interior, really rather good reviews and a thoughtful transatlantic theme echoing that of the Colony Grill Room, Sea Containers has everything going for it, but, unfortunately, the experience of this American breakfast was underwhelming.
Nevertheless, America’s culinary influence on us shows no signs of slowing down. With Richard Caring’s Jackson & Rye, Stax Diner, Lucky Seven Diner and Smith’s all doing their American-breakfast thing, look out for more interpretations of this trend in London, with the breakfast-at-any-time attitude and salty and sweet sensation reigning supreme.
The view of Sea Containers and the Thames on Blackfriars Bridge