It makes sense that, with the last place we brunched being Ten in Hornsey, we would follow that by going to No. 11 Pimlico Road. If you know a restaurant called Twelve that does brunch, let us know.
Anyway, that is by the by. Let me take you back to the beginning of the summer. It’s festival season, the days are long and warm, and Taylor Swift is in London. I know, it sounds like something from your wildest dreams. But I promise you it was real, and we were going to Hyde Park to see her play, and first, we were going to get brunch.
There were a big gang of us – six in total – and we were in a celebratory mood. So it made sense to order one or two cocktail jugs to start the day off right. We got the Elderflower and Earl Grey fizz, and let me tell you, it was great – sharp and strong with gin and a little fizzy to get you in the mood.
I got double eggs benedict, as I was feeling classic. The hollandaise was perfectly light, so the double wasn’t too overwhelming, as they can be if the sauce is too rich. I liked the addition of avocado and spinach, and my eggs were perfectly poached. All I will say is that I’m not 100% behind the trend of serving eggs benedict on sourdough toast instead of an english muffin – it just makes things a bit too dense and hard to eat.
For dessert – because it was a brunch dessert kind of day – I ordered the chocolate mousse, and it was perfect. Dense, chocolatey, cut through with salted caramel and a crumbly biscuit base, it felt like an incredibly indulgent treat.
No. 11 is a beautiful restaurant – spacious, calm, with a well-stocked bar on full display that makes me think it would be a great choice for evening cocktails, or Sunday lunch as well. It’s also not that far out of the way, only 10 minutes from Victoria station, so well worth a visit. Though the brunch choices aren’t particularly varied, you can also have sharing plates or classic mains at the weekend too, so it’s also a great choice if you aren’t in the mood for breakfast foods (though, why wouldn’t you be?)
Afterwards we tipsily made our way to Hyde Park, via the wetherspoons at Victoria Station for a lot more cider. The sun was warm and bright. We sat in the grass at Hyde Park and watched Ellie Goulding on the big screen. As the sun began to set, Taylor set the night on fire with her costume changes, celebrity guests and sing-along refrains (“boys only want love if it’s torture, don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn ya’”). It was one of those absolutely perfect summer days, with a brunch to match.
If you’re feeling enchanted by the beautiful image Hattie painted of our hazy summer days, then I’m afraid you’re going to have to, ah, shake it off. Ahem. Not the brunch wasn’t good, or the sun wasn’t shining, or Taylor Swift isn’t the voice of a generation and greatest songstress of our times. Those things are all still true. But, in a cruel twist of evil fate, I had been plagued that week with the ACTUAL PLAGUE.
Okay, not the actual bubonic plague like America apparently has these days. (Don’t click on that link unless you’re have a particularly strong stomach.) But it was close. I had been out with work friends the week before, and then suffered what I thought was a monumental hangover. But it just kind of… kept going. Endlessly. I genuinely thought I might not make it to Taylor Swift, which was one of my darker moments of 2015. All I could do was lie around in bed coughing and feeling sorry for myself.
By the Saturday I was not *ahem* out of the woods, but I was feeling slightly less like the end was nigh, and I managed to dress myself successfully and leave the house without infecting anyone. That I know of.
But, although I was grateful to be well enough to make it outdoors, I definitely wasn’t well enough to drink. So while everyone else had the amazing elderflower thing, I ordered some nice, safe, family friendly mango juice.
It was really, really good mango juice though. It was so thick and smooth that it almost felt like drinking cream – but it was fruity! I felt like it might even be healthy enough to cure me. (It didn’t.)
Then I ordered the No 11 Bacon Sandwich, because I always like to try the signature dishes. It came in a brioche bun, with a light yellow colour that reminded me of the bread you buy in supermarkets while on holiday in Spain – but it was much lighter and nicer.
I may have had the plague, but I was feeling fearless, so I picked the whole thing up with two hands and took a big bite.
As if I wasn’t already pathetic enough, I immediately started choking. I had to finish eating it with a knife and fork. I will never grow up. (That’s the last embarrassing song reference I swear.)
The bacon was just about crispy enough, although they could have left it in the pan a little longer, just to really char the fat to its full potential. But underneath the bacon there was a big, juicy mushroom, which was great. There was also a fun addition of teleggio cheese, which I don’t think I’d ever tried before. It was good – a little stringy, but not as stringy as mozzarella, and a fairly mild flavour. I thought there could have been a little more, but Hattie would definitely disagree.
I was too sick to order dessert (sob) so I ordered a coffee instead. They use beans from the Caravan roastery, so it was really good.
Final aside – Tilly had her birthday that week, so she’ll be mad if I don’t mention that in addition to being a Taylor Swift brunch, it was also her birthday brunch. Happy birthday, past Tilly!
Let’s be honest though, it was all about Taylor. I drank even more juice while everyone else had cider at the pub, so I was definitely way too sober for a summer festival. But it was a lovely afternoon in the sun all the same. And, of course, Taylor Swift is the love of all our lives, the goddess of the earth, and everyone’s ultimate best friend. She was amazing. Her show was brilliant. I wasn’t cured for another three weeks, but I at least stopped feeling quite so forlorn about it.