If you’re looking for London’s most Instagrammable Sunday brunch, look no further than The Barge House. Situated a short walk away from Shoreditch High Street on the banks of Regent’s Canal, The Barge House is unsurprisingly filled with London’s most fashionable millennials (and that includes the staff). With it’s floor-to-ceiling windows, fairy lights and minimalist chic interior it’s the perfect place for a weekend brunch, and the only place to be seen before noon on a Sunday.
If you’ve not heard of The Barge House, then you must be a strong-willed soul who has yet to succumb to the powers of Instagram, but then again, maybe you just don’t live in East London. In defence of Instagram, social media has revealed a whole world of restaurants, bars and pop-ups that I would never have heard of otherwise. And incidentally, it was mindlessly scrolling through the ‘discover’ feed on Instagram that originally led me to The Barge House. Although The Barge House is an all-day restaurant, transitioning to a bar in the evenings, its Instagram profile is dominated by a single dish, their iconic ‘breakfast in bread’ (yes you read that right, bread not bed), which is revolutionising weekend brunch.
‘Breakfast in bread’ is exactly what it says on the tin, a freshly baked sourdough roll, hollowed out and filled with traditional breakfast fare, before being rebaked and served on a slate. What more could you possibly want? ‘Breakfast in bread’ is available from 10am – 5pm Friday through Sunday (in fact that’s all that is served during that time), and there are a few different options to choose from, The Original – think your standard English Breakfast but in a loaf, sausage, mushrooms, egg etc.; The Vegetarian – tomatoes, spinach, leeks, mushrooms, avocado, asparagus, topped all with a free range egg and cheese; Smoked salmon – pretty self explanatory; Hot Stuff – essentially The Orginal, but with chorizo and spicy beans; and The Adam and Eve – a real curve ball with black pudding and baked apple. Unsurprisingly, I opted for The Vegetarian, which whilst the only menu item suitable for veggies, is still an incredibly delicious (and filling) way to start any Sunday morning. Although it would be nice to be given a little more choice, Hot Stuff without the chorizo sounded right up my street, and next time I’ll be sure to ask whether it’s possible to order any of the set dishes without the meat. I also noted that whilst The Barge House’s ‘normal’ breakfast menu offers a few vegan options, there aren’t any vegan items available on the weekend brunch menu, which is surprising considering the restaurant’s demographic. (Maybe this isn’t the place for you, vegan friends. However, I didn’t ask whether any of the dishes could be may vegan, so there’s still hope yet!)
Whilst there is a lack of choice for veggies and vegans, The Barge House’s efforts to ethically source their produce should not be ignored. All the eggs served in the restaurant (and with every sourdough roll topped with one, I’m sure they go through a lot) is free range, this is clearly stated on the menu and I have to say as a vegetarian who is passionate about avoiding eggs from battery-farmed hens, this small statement put me at ease. More impressive is the source of their signature country sourdough loaves, which are baked daily at the Better Health Bakery. A charitable artisan bakery in East London, which provides trainee placements for adults recovering from ill mental health. So you can tuck into brunch knowing that you’re supporting a good and local cause!
If Bloody Mary’s are your thing this is definitely the place for you. The Barge House have five different Bloody Mary options on offer including a Chilli Mary, a refreshing Cucumber Mary and a rather unique Rosemary Mary. If you’re looking for a healthier option (or if you’ve got a bit of a sore head from the night before) their range of freshly squeezed juices are pretty great too, I opted for The Orange One, a blend of carrot, orange and fiery ginger (anything that orange has to be good for you!).
If you’re looking to visit The Barge House, and I highly recommend you do, be aware that you can only book the 10am slots on the weekend, after that the restaurant operates a walk in policy for groups of less than 10 people. If you manage to book for 10am, the maximum length booking is one and a half hours, so if you’ve not booked I recommend getting to the Barge House just before 11:30, you might have to wait a little while whilst they clear the tables but after 12pm the queue outside starts to grow rapidly, so it’s worth the short wait (trust me).