Hip Londoners are shying away from the capital’s clubs and doing brunch instead, begging the question: is brunch the new Saturday night? Kaye Holland has the low-down Picture the scene: a DJ is spinning dance tracks on the decks, the drinks are flowing and the glossy, well heeled, willowy guests are either preening and posing for Facebook photos or throwing sexy shapes in their short hemlines and stilettos, on the dance floor. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is an image straight from a Saturday night in Soho, but you’d be wrong. It might sound like 3am but actually it’s 3pm, on a Saturday afternoon.
- Broadway Brunch director, Amit Malhotra (right)
Once upon a time, brunch was about eggs benedict washed down with a big mug of builders tea or a bloody mary. Fast forward to 2012 and the midday meal - the brainchild of British journalist, Guy Beringer back at the start of the 20th century - has evolved. Today it revolves around champagne, pina colada cupcakes served by smokin hot platinum blondes, gourmet burgers and yes, dancing atop tables and chairs.
And it’s a trend that shows no sign of abating. By contrast, the battle of the brunches is heating up: Love Brunch - the pioneer of boozy brunches - has been joined by Broadway Brunch, Bacanal and Bread Street Kitchen, all of whom are competing for the cash of a hot, young crowd. Saturday brunch parties are clearly becoming part of the culture, turning night life into day life, but why are we all so eager to burn the midnight oil in the middle of the day?
- Love Brunch at Kensington Roof Gardens
The answer, according to Amit Malhotra - the man behind Broadway Brunch - is that drop dead gorgeous daytime brunch parties, offer an escape from an otherwise mundane midday.
“People really want to be entertained - and they don’t want to wait until the evening. Broadway Brunch is this amazing combination of friends and strangers having a blast in stunning surroundings - and all before 6pm,” muses Malhotra. “I don't want to pigeonhole but our clientele tends to fall into the 25-35 bracket, are good looking and eager to pack as much fun as possible into their weekends.”
But - given that we have only recently emerged from a recession - aren’t these new brunches a little, erm, excessive? The brunchers I met at Broadway Brunch’s September shindig at Broadway House (whose rooftop terrace with its spectacular views of the west London skyline, is worth the visit alone) beg to differ. “Brunch parties aren’t nearly as expensive as night out in London,” says Louise Felgate - a glam good looking, 30 something blonde. She isn't wrong: brunch is easier on the wallet than a refined W1 dinner menu and the mark up on drinks (a jug of Pimms costs a very reasonable - for London - £20 at Broadway Brunch) isn’t as high either. Plus, as fellow reveller Keith Alexander points out: “At the end of the event, you can catch the tube home, rather than remortgaging your house to pay for a black cab.” Keith confesses that he loves brunch parties “because they’re more relaxed. Saturday nights out in London can feel pressured, but a Saturday afternoon starts off a lot more chilled.”
It’s a stance shared by Tom Carr - the creator of LoveBrunch, whose high profile past guests have included Sienna Miller, Matthew Williamson and the cast of Made in Chelsea. “Saturday afternoons have a special energy,” says Carr who believes it’s only natural that we are all “jumping around during the daytime, as this is when our energy is at it’s highest. When we go out at night, we are battling against our biological clock.”
- Broadway brunch at Broadway House
Bottom line: brunch parties promise a generous serving of fun, sans a side of bourgeois anxiety about going to work the next day. But does this trend have legs? The organisers are certainly hoping so: the Broadway Brunch crew - whose events, up until now, have revolved around west London - will be rolling out their winning combination of champagne, cupcakes, DJs, pimms, burgers, high energy staff, magicians and more to the rest of the capital come 2013. Meanwhile Carr and his Love Brunch colleagues are planning to expand their brand beyond the M25, having hosted their first international brunch in Ibiza over the August Bank Holiday with great success.
- The Made in Chelsea cast
Their optimism isn’t unfounded. The brunch-goers I spoke to all claimed - perhaps buoyed by booze - that they’d be indulging in daytime debauchery again soon. For as Alexander put it: “Who doesn’t love brunch?”
For more on Love Brunch, visit www.facebook.com/WELOVEBRUNCH For brunch update and offers from Broadway Brunch, visit: www.facebook.com/BroadwayBrunch