Brunch at The Barge House
I’m born and raised in Melbourne. Melbourne knows brunch. I’m fairly certain Melbourne invented brunch. I have read that brunch actually originated in England in the late 19th century, eventually making its mark on the US food circuit in the 1930s and reaching Australia some time after that. But…
It’s probably fair to say that Melbourne turned brunch into the weekly spectacle it is today. The kind of spectacle that saw cafes add items to their menu like:
‘Buttermilk pancake stack, passionfruit curd, fresh mango and cherries, viola water bubble, sakura sherbert, creme fraiche, raspberry coral’
‘Twice cooked pork belly on brioche bun with sriracha, pickled cabbage, apple relish and a fried egg’
These are actual dishes on actual menus in Melbourne. You can find them at venues called Pillar of Salt and Two Birds with One Stone - because in Melbourne, a brunch venue must have a name as quirky as its menus.
I had been told that there are no such lavish venues in London. Except for Sunday Cafe in Islington, demonstrated by the queues down the road. I was told there would be no semblance of a Melbourne brunch here in London. Certainly not for Melbourne prices, anyhow.
To be honest, I wouldn’t have expected it. London has the museums, the galleries, the restaurants, the nightlife, the unique ‘experiences’, the music scene and the sightseeing covered. To me, that seems like more than enough expertise for one city.
But then someone recommended I try The Barge House. So I did.
The Barge House brunch
The sun shines, tables spill out onto the path on Regent’s Canal overlooking its glistening waters and the unmistakable aroma of breakfast hangs in the air. There could not be a more idyllic brunch spot.
Reservations are essential, especially if you’re after one of those coveted outdoor tables on a sunny day. But it’s not just the location that makes The Barge House so highly sought after. It’s the menu. Famous for its ‘Breakfast in Bread’, the name (almost) speaks for itself.
Freshly baked bread from neighbouring Better Health Bakery (an artisan bakery, part of Hackney mental health charity, the Centre for Better Health) arrives daily at The Barge House. It’s a bespoke sourdough loaf, created in partnership with The Barge House’s head baker, and it forms the basis for the moreish Breakfast in Bread menu.
The loaf is hollowed out and filled a variety of breakfast favourites. There are just four options, but that might actually be a blessing in disguise. Each item reads more delicious than the last.
Never have you ever spent quite so long agonising over a choice of four.
The Barge House Menu
It features the classic breakfast options: smoked bacon, sausage, roasted tomatoes, leeks, oyster mushrooms and spinach. Topped with an egg and sprinkled with cheese, it’s the quintessential English breakfast baked into a sourdough loaf.
Roasted tomatoes, spinach, leeks, oyster mushrooms, avocado and asparagus. This dish too is finished off with a free range egg and sprinkled with cheese.
The Smoked Salmon
This sourdough loaf features smoked salmon (naturally), spinach, leeks, crème fraiche and is topped with a free range egg and cheese.
The Hot Stuff
For the chorizo lovers. This loaf is filled with hot beans, red peppers, chilli mushrooms, spinach, chorizo and is topped with an range egg and sprinkled with cheese.
While you won’t leave hungry, you may leave wishing you could have tasted each and every one of them. Served up on a wooden board with knives as sharp as required for such intensely crusty bread, these Breakfasts in Bread creations are best consumed one per person.
Unfortunately during my visit, our order was missed. This seems to be happening with such regularity that my partner and I are starting to think it’s us. Three times in as many months isn’t normal, is it? When alerted, our order was quickly filled, so all was forgiven.
When our food finally did arrive, it looked every bit as delicious as the photos you’ll find all over Instagram. I’m (mostly) sure that wasn’t the hunger talking. You won’t be disappointed by brunch at The Barge House. Even if you’re from Melbourne ;)