CANALSIDE BRUNCH AT THE BARGE HOUSE
London is the perfect destination for brunch lovers and you’ll be spoilt for choice no matter if you’re vegan, a meat eater or what cuisine you’re into. I’ve heard great things about brunch at The Barge House for a while and recently I finally had an opportunity to visit and see what all the fuss is about.
The Barge House is located in trendy Haggerston, just north of Hoxton (which is practically Shoreditch). This historically poor, working class neighbourhood is now a firm favourite with young creative professionals and peppered with trendy cafes and bars. Overlooking Regent’s Canal and housed in a glass fronted, double height building The Barge House gets flooded with light even on a cloudy day. You can choose between a table on a buzzing main restaurant floor, more private mezzanine level or outside along the canal path (perfect for people watching).
Lydia and I (it’s always great to have a fellow creative and influencer for company) visited on a windy Saturday morning and the place was buzzing. We booked a table ahead of time which is what I would recommend (10am is the only slot available to book on weekends, after that the restaurant operates a walk in policy) if you don’t want to wait around. If 10am is too early for you, I’d suggest you head there around 11:30am instead (the morning reservations have a 1.5 hour limit) to have the best chance of snapping a table quickly. As for the food, during Friday to Sunday daytime the only thing on the menu is their signature offering - ‘breakfast in bread’. It’s basically a hollowed out sourdough loaf stuffed with all your breakfast favourites, baked, sprinkled with fresh herbs and served on a wooden board. All of the five variations sounded absolutely delicious so we took ages deciding before finally settling on vegetarian and smoked salmon options.
The sourdough loaves are freshly baked in a social enterprise bakery next door, The Better Health Bakery, which offers support and work placements to adults who have been distanced from employment due to mental ill-health. This is one of the things I love about London. Each neighbourhood has such a strong sense of community and locals actively support each other, and this partnership is a great example.
An open kitchen where you can see your order being prepared is a nice feature and the food certainly looks attractive upon arrival. We photographed the hell out of it to the amusement of the table next to us before finally tucking in. I’ll be honest with you, it’s a little bit tricky to eat and it takes effort to cut through the crispy sourdough skin (there’s a good reason why each bread is served with a steak knife) but it’s all worth it because it tastes just as good as it looks. My combo of spinach, leeks, oyster mushrooms, avocado, asparagus and tomato topped with a free range egg and cheese was delicious and very satisfying. The portions are also huge and whilst I polished off all the filling I struggled with finishing the bread and ended up leaving half of it behind (my eyes wanted to continue but my stomach just couldn’t stretch any more).
The service is friendly and very efficient. This is certainly not a place for lazy three hour lunch as the staff gently but confidently make sure you don’t exceed your 1.5 hour allocated sitting but it’s certainly worth making the trip for the food and to soak up hipster East London vibes (this stretch of the canal has been dubbed The Haggerston Riviera!).
I hope you enjoyed this review and if you end up trying to The Barge House famed breakfast in bread, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!