Who can tell me what the following words all have in common?
Would it help if I said the clue was a French word portmanteau: a case or bag for carrying clothes that usually opens up into two equally sized compartments? The clue’s in the two… because, you see, all the above words are in fact portmanteau words – a linguistic blend of words in which parts of two or more existing words are combined to make a new word. We all know what the constituent parts of Brangelina are – can you tell what the others on the list are made up of?
Another famous portmanteau word, introduced in the classic English humour/satire publication Punch Magazine in 1896, is the word brunch (breakfast + lunch). Ask any sensible individual what the most decadent meal of the day is and I will give you pretty good odds on the fact that they will say brunch. It’s a meal that spans the practical deliciousness of fruits salads eggs in a variety of ways; the naughtiness of calorific desserts; and the loucheness of Bloody Mary cocktails in the middle of the day. Add a good book and I will be perfectly happy for the rest of the day, munching my way down the menu and devouring both the food and the book. And that is exactly the concept behind Book and Brunch Sundays at the Lowndes Bar & Kitchen, situated in the Jumeirah Lowndes hotel in Belgravia.
The restaurant has teamed up with local independent bookstore Belgravia Books to offer Book and Brunch Sundays, a concept so perfect that you wonder how nobody has thought it it before. One Sunday earlier this year we made our way to the beautiful Jumeirah Lowndes boutique hotel (not to be confused with the its much larger sister property, the nearby Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel) on a sunny Sunday to sample this delightful concept. We started off inside the Lowndes Bar & Kitchen with its beautifully serene colour scheme and large windows overlooking the terrace, but the lure of the sun proved to be too much and soon we had relocated to a terrace table (which, incidentally, is fantastic for people watching!). Our perky and super helpful waitress was soon on hand to present us with the menu, our books and the all-important glass of bubbles!
Brunch includes not only bottomless tea, coffee and juice but also a choice of one dish from the Short Stories section of the menu (smaller dishes) and one from the Great Works section of the menu. I chose to start with maple syrup granola with Greek yoghurt and fresh berries while Rosana started with the fresh fruit platter. My granola was delicious – packed with nutty flavour – and the yoghurt thick and creamy. Rosana’s fruit platter had sounded like the slightly boring option, but it turned out to be an extravaganza of flavour and colour… and who can resist a fruit platter that is served with a scoop of berry sorbet?
From the Great Works section of the menu, we both chose the same dish – who can resist Eggs Royale? Evidently not us! These were breakfast perfection – beautifully runny yolks, properly toasted muffins and excellent creamy Hollandaise sauce. The dry Prosecco that was being continuously poured by the waitress worked well with this dish, balancing out the richness with a fine mousse and good acidity. Other menu options that tempted us included caramelised vegetable and chorizo frittata; and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon pancakes and hollandaise.
Although this was an a la carte add-on to the brunch menu, I could not resist the lure of some sort of dessert. I mean, not much point in amalgamating breakfast and lunch if you can’t enjoy the lunch fringe benefit of dessert, right? That said, I was not in the mood for the rather heavy sweet options on the Great Works menu (blueberry buttermilk pancakes with bacon and maple syrup; or brioche French toast with sautéed bananas and caramel sauce) so instead we ordered 2 scoops of house-made ice-cream to finish: pistachio and salted caramel, both of which were excellent and worked as well with the macchiato as with the prosecco. The verdict? An indulgent way to while away a lazy Sunday, plus an excuse to discover a new book!
The 2-course Book and Brunch Sunday set menu at Lowndes Bar & Kitchen is served from 12pm to 5pm and costs £30 per person (or £25 without the book). Brunch dishes are also available a la carte, so extra courses can be added for an additional cost. For those wishing to treat themselves or make a special occasion of it, a Bottomless Bubbles option can be added for £15 per person. The Belgravia Books Book of the Month from 5 – 26 November will be the classic Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
Nearest station: Knightsbridge
Cost per head: £30 for 2 courses plus a book (£45 with bottomless bubbles)
Lowndes Bar & Kitchen
Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel,
London SW1X 9ES
Tel: 020 7858 7223
Here are some more excellent London brunches:
DISCLOSURE: I enjoyed this meal as a guest of Lowndes Bar & Kitchen but received no further remuneration to write this post. I was not expected to write a positive review – all views are my own and I retain full editorial control.
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