A few weeks ago, the Uni Friend announced that she wanted to do bottomless brunch for her birthday. She was worried that it would be quite expensive for everyone but I was game before I’d even considered how much it would cost. The words “bottomless” and “brunch” are two of my favourite words in the English language and I’d never put them together before – I was very excited. I didn’t quite know if the “bottomless” referred to the food and/or the drinks but either way I’d be happy. It turned out to be the latter.
The Flatmate and I were the first to arrive at Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings in Clerkenwell just before our 1pm booking on Saturday. We walked into the restaurant to find a piano next to the door and a completely white room, with a dark wooden bar in front of us, paintings on the walls and comfy looking chairs to the side.
We were told that there was still a party at our table so it wasn’t ready yet but they had just paid up so we could wait at the bar until they were gone. Soon the Uni Friend arrived and the rest of our group trickled in. We hovered by the bar for a while but our table still wasn’t ready. I was starting to feel a little anxious, we’d been told that we’d only have the table for an hour and a half which would be fine if the clock started once we sat down but otherwise our time was getting eaten into.
After about 20 minutes (or so), we were seated at a smaller table near the door with armchairs and a sofa so that we could start ordering drinks. There were two bottomless options: Bloody Marys for £17 or bellinis for £18. That actually seemed quite a reasonable price – we’d only need two drinks each to get our money’s worth. An incredibly friendly waitress came over to take our order and then at about half past, not long after we started on our first round of bellinis, when we were told our table was finally ready.
We were taken round the bar to another room filled with hanging pot plants and brown ceiling fans. Several of the chairs were covered in white fabric with bright floral patterns and there was a room that looked like a conservatory next to us. It made me feel like I was on holiday – someplace very nice. We were in a group of six and were seated at a circular table, meaning we could all actually talk to each other. I think more restaurants should have circular tables. We also found out that the bathrooms had a bath over which you washed your hands, instead of sinks, that was something different.
I wasn’t quite sure how the bottomless element of the brunch would work. I thought perhaps we’d just have to keep flagging waiters to ask for another round but that wasn’t the case. Instead, waiters would hover round the area and keep an eye on everyone’s drinks. When you were getting low, they’d turn up with another tray of bellinis and they were very good at keeping you topped up. Considering the fact this was the first meal most of us had eaten so far that day, we were going to have to be careful.
The brunch menu had several options but not so many that it was overwhelming. The choices basically fell into four categories: an English breakfast comprised of selected items of your choosing, potato hash with an egg and various toppings, drop scones (i.e. scotch pancakes, it turns out) and french toast with several different accompaniments, poached eggs and English muffins again with a range of different sauces and toppings and then there were a few other lighter (and cheaper) choices as well, like porridge, granola, crumpets and scones. Everything sounded so very tasty so it took a while for us to actually choose.
I knew I wanted something savoury but I was torn between the English breakfast, which I figured would be the most filling, and the crispy potato hash with braised beef, hollandaise sauce and crispy shallots. However, the latter was really calling to me and I thought I should go for something different. It came with either a poached hen’s egg or a fried duck’s egg. Poached eggs are quite possibly my favourite thing ever so that’s what I went for.
We all ordered different things and I was a bit worried that I would get food envy but I need not have. Admittedly, mine didn’t completely fill me up – and I would have liked two eggs as opposed to one – but it wasn’t a tiny portion and it was delicious. Everyone’s looked great (particularly the Uni Friend’s drop scones) but I was very happy with my choice.
We still had time at our table once we’d finished our food and the waiter’s continued to bring us drinks. We sat for a while just chatting and drinking bellinis and the waiter’s kept an eye on our table for a while after we’d finished our food. It wasn’t until about 3.20pm that we were told they really needed our table back, which was longer than we had been expected to be allowed to stay, even taking into consideration the time we had had to wait for our table and even then our waiter told us he’d ordered us one last round of drinks.
Our bill wasn’t small and my own total came to about £30 (including tip) but that didn’t seem that much for what I’d had (The Flatmate worked out how much our total would have been if we’d paid for each individual drink and it was not pretty) and I think mine was the most expensive. I hadn’t really been counting the number of bellinis that had been delivered to our table but the waiter had kept track and the number appeared on our bill. I won’t tell you how many it was for two reasons – firstly, I don’t want to sound like we drink too much and, secondly, I also don’t want to disappoint anyone who feels we didn’t drink enough. Still, we all left very happy and completely in control of all our faculties.