Unlimited bloody mary’s? Check. Unlimited starters? Check. Unlimited puddings? Check. Stunning views across London? Check. It’s got to be the new unlimited brunch at Darwin Brasserie.
There’s a saying that if you are bored of London you are bored of life and, with so much on offer in the city, that’s possibly true! But, I think it can sometimes be hard to get excited about the new restaurants, bars, activities and experiences that open up every single day.
Time Out does a stellar job of keeping locals and visitors up to date about what is new and cool in the city, as do newsletters like The Hype and Emerald Street but it can be hard to know what’s worth your effort and what’s not.
The Sky Garden was one of those that just didn’t set my heart racing when it first opened. There was so much hype that within days it was booked up until March that I couldn’t be bothered to battle for the tickets.
That is until I found out that the Darwin Brasserie (one of the Sky Garden’s cocktail bar or restaurants) had started doing an unlimited brunch and it entitled you to jumping the queues!
You can read more about beating the queues at the Sky Garden here.
The Sky Garden is an oasis of calm at the top of a sky scraper in the heart of the city. Opened in 2015, it has been hugely popular with both locals and tourists, not least because it’s free to visit.
For those wanting to make their trip to the Sky Garden extra special, it’s possible to sip champagne or cocktails at one of the 2 bars, or to book a table at one of the restaurants. We did just that one Saturday morning in September.
When we decided we’d get brunch at the Sky Garden, the unlimited brunch at Darwin Brasserie was the obvious choice.
What is an unlimited brunch I hear you ask. Well, it is made up of an unlimited buffet for starters, unlimited bloody mary’s, a choice of main course cooked to order, followed by another unlimited buffet of puddings, cakes and confectionery.
Sounds good right?
When you walk into the restaurant on the 26th floor you are immediately presented with the buffet of starters. The variety of dishes on offer is pretty impressive: cured meats, smoked seafood, a variety of salads including tomato and mozzarella and (my favourite) creamy bacon potato salad, as well as prawn cocktail and a selection of breads to name just a few.
No one really explained to us how the “system” worked but after being seated we were told we could help ourselves to the buffet.
Being greedy (and hungry as the earliest brunch booking you can make is 11.30am) we both picked the biggest plates on offer and piled them high.
I went for a mix of salads and a little cured ham which ordinarily wouldn’t have gone together but it all tasted delicious. Each salad had been carefully thought out and well seasoned. Despite being part of a large buffet which wasn’t prepared to order, nothing tasted stale. Instead it was all surprisingly fresh! (Perhaps an advantage of being one of the first tables to help themselves).
After plate number two we were starting to struggle. You’d be mistaken for thinking this was a marathon not a sprint. But, every table has a time limit as is common with popular restaurants in central. So, we were doing our best to try as much of the buffet as possible in the shortest time frame!
We must have looked defeated as our waiter soon came over and asked if we were ready for our mains. As these are cooked to order they don’t begin cooking until you have had your fill of the starter buffet.
New York Breakfast
From the main course menu I had chosen the New York Breakfast. The thin, sirloin steak was cooked just how I liked it – medium rare. When I saw the caramelisation on the outside I was a little worried it might be overdone. But no sooner than my knife had touched the piece of steak I knew it was going to be perfect.
It took hardly any effort to cut through the steak which gave way like butter being cut by a hot knife. It was tender and juicy and perfectly seasoned.
The egg on top was a nice touch with the rich runny yolk reminding you this was breakfast rather than dinner.
I’d be lying if I said I ate the salad but the mushroom and tomato were the perfect accompaniments to the star of the dish – that wonderful sirloin steak. I would go back just for that!
There were just two veggie options (out of nine) and Jon opted for the truffle omelette. In my opinion if truffle is on the menu you’d be mad not to choose it (I am a big fan!) Plus, the other option was not really a breakfast or brunch dish in my opinion.
You can see the sample menu here.
I have never seen slithers of truffle quite as large as the two that adorned the top of Jon’s omelette. He had disappeared off to the gents just before it arrived and I couldn’t help but snap a picture before he tucked in.
As expected, the omelette was fluffy (almost as light as a souffle), seasoned well and rich and almost meaty with the earthy flavour of the truffle. The salty parmesan was the perfect seasoning and the asparagus lifted the dish.
Jon maintains this is not only the best omelette he’s ever had but the best brunch he’s ever had and insists we must go back!
If the restaurant hadn’t been quite so fancy I am pretty sure both Jon and I would have licked our plates clean. But it’s a classy establishment so we remained on our best behaviour.
After another bloody mary (more about them in a minute) we decided it was time to attempt the pudding buffet.
When something is described as unlimited it instantly becomes a challenge. It must be human nature, but both of us came back with a ridiculous amount of sweet treats.
Banana bread, nougat, brownies, profiteroles and a lemon posset were just a few of the desserts on offer which we sampled.
Jon fell in love with the lemon posset and spent far too long diving his spoon into the little jar trying to get the last ribbons of lemon curd stuck to the sides of the glass. For me the winners were the banana bread and the profiteroles.
The banana bread was wonderfully moist and not too sweet. It had been topped with toasted walnuts which brought a wonderful earthy flavour. The profiteroles were a wonderful mix of light pastry, velvety cream and sweet white chocolate – all of my favourite things!
Unlimited bloody mary bar
The one thing that kept us going throughout this mammoth meal was the unlimited supply of bloody mary’s.
You are more than welcome to order tea, coffee, or even other cocktails and alcoholic drinks from the main menu but these aren’t included in the price of the brunch. Bloody mary’s, on the other hand, are!
Whenever you fancy a glass of the red stuff, you simply head up to the bar where a dedicated bar tender will make your bloody mary just the way you like it (mild for Jon, extra spicy for me!)
Should you be so bold as to want to make it a double they charge an extra £1 – just something to be mindful of.
Would I visit again?
If you’ve made it this far you’ve probably realised that we had a very good time. And not just because we were faced with an unlimited supply of food and booze on a sunny Saturday morning.
The cost of the brunch of £44.50 per head which, given the quality of the food (and of course the quantity) is something we were very impressed with.
There are some great (and not so great) restaurants in the City which will charge you that for a steak alone, let alone the salads, puddings and drinks I had on top.