If you like your brunch boozy, bold and brash then venture down to St James Street and relax with brunch at Avenue. An American-inspired menu combined with decadent day-club vibes makes it a Sunday hotspot for glamorous girls and sharply dressed boys.
The space features plush booths and cosy tables all spread around an impressive centre bar featuring a wineglass chandelier. When we visited, fairly late in the day for brunch at 2pm, the resident DJ was still going strong so this probably isn’t the place if you’re after an intimate tete-a-tete or something romantic.
However, it’s one of the sexiest brunches around and they’ve just introduced a fabulous new “French toast parlour” – with both sweet and savoury options.
During brunch at Avenue, the Sunday Spritz menu offers a unique take on the Manhattan classic boozy brunch with Aperol Spritz and Bloody Marys. We find, just sometimes, endless fizz is too filling and the novelty can wear off after eight or so (ahem) so a punchy gin or vodka-based cocktail kept things interesting. However, glass balloons of tangerine deliciousness should not be drunk on an empty belly, but brunch at Avenue means Southern comfort food delights just right for lining the stomach.
To begin, there’s the classic eggy starters: Royale, Florentine and Benedict. All came smothered in a tangy Hollandaise Sauce and while not canapé-sized, they were petite enough to leave room for the main event. We sampled all three as well as scrambled eggs and salmon on sourdough toast – fresh, light and scrumptious.
Main course offerings were classic hearty soul food. We chose the lobster man ‘n’ cheese: it was dripping with decadence. Bubbling, browned cheese and creamy macaroni all souped together with chunks of shellfish. We also opted for the classic burger which was juicy, stacked high with toppings and served with enormously plump chips. Very filling indeed. Greedily we also had to sample the French toast: a ham and cheese stuffed Brioche roll that was gooey and rich and everything you’d expect from an American kitchen.
A few cocktails later and it was time to squeeze in pudding. The staff recommended their famous pecan pie – a delicious Dixie salute that was melty and chewy with the perfect crumbly base. Topped with flavoursome “milk” ice cream, we regretted ordering just the one. There’s other gourmet American fare to try too: a buttermilk waffle with sour cream and berry compote, spiced short rib hash and the New England favourite, lobster roll.
For vegetarians, there’s a chunky mushroom burger or veggie potato hash and it wouldn’t be true Uncle Sam style without a milkshake menu. And we bet if you asked nicely the kind people in charge of the brunch at Avenue would sauce up your ’shake a notch with a shot of premium whisky, brandy or rum. Head chef Andras Katona, previously of Le Pont de la Tour in Tower Bridge, makes sure his dishes are “innovative, clean and seasonal”. He says one of his biggest influences is from his time with Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck and this shines through – nothing gimmicky here. Just belly-filling, quality food.
Avenue caters for the moneyed sophisticate without being obnoxious. The beats from the resident DJ settle down as the afternoon unfolds and there’s none of the hawkish monitoring of drinks that can sometimes ruin a “bottomless” situation. No hovering, just plenty of pouring. Excellent food, a luxe space in the smarter part of town and just the right amount of showing off equals a Sunday session ideal for debriefing the night before and gearing up for the week ahead. Booking for brunch at Avenue is definitely recommended as this place fills up quick!
7-9 St James’s Street
London, SW1A 1EE