By Alex Ivett
THE first recorded mention of the term brunch is alleged to be from an 1895 edition of Hunter’s Weekly, in which it is described as a Sunday meal for “Saturday-night carousers”.
“Cheerful, sociable and inciting, it is talk-compelling,” writes author Guy Beringer. “It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”
Aptly titled ‘Brunch: A Plea’, the article sets down the fundamentals of brunch — friends, family and sharing stories. Food — important. Company? Essential. Good coffee, well, that just goes without saying.
For the Australian in London, a weekend brunch forms an important part of your UK experience. It will be where you form new friendships, share morning-after laughs with old friends, and even where you start to feel the city is more than just a transitory location when you find yourself a regular haunt and a barista who can predict your order.
It is also where you’ll go to catch up with old friends and family as they pass through town, leading them through the streets like a seasoned old-timer before arriving at your chosen venue designed to perfectly reflect your new, shiny, London life. A great cup of coffee ‘sweeps away the worries’, and a buzzy, friendly atmosphere compels the talk. The cappuccinos keep coming, the stories are shared, and for a few hours at least the thousands of kilometres between you melt away.
A cross-continental catch-up usually demands a central location. After travelling 26 hours in a steel-encased tube, friends and family are hesitant to be immediately lurched into the hidden alleys of East London, or subject themselves to a multi-line Tube story to the far-flung suburb you inevitably live.
Seven Dials in Covent Garden is almost as central as you can get. All roads lead to Rome, but all seven sides of the city converge on this hub of shops, theatres and restaurants. At its heart is Kopapa, a bustling and stylish café and restaurant. With slick wooden tables, long benches lining the walls, and a subtle, soothing green, cream and brown colour scheme, it is a relaxed venue which eases you and your jetlagged guest into your Sunday morning.
With a specialty ‘weekend brunch’ menu packed full of creative and innovative options, you know Kopapa means business. No doubt if Beringer was around to sample their ‘Turkish eggs’ — poached eggs in a bath of hot chilli butter, thick toast and whipped yogurt, he’d say, now that’s what I mean by brunch.
However, it’s the fry-ups which really hit the spot — big plates of creamy scrambled eggs with sautéed buttered field mushrooms, slow-roasted tomatoes, and bacon for the carnivores. Accompanied with two creamy lattes complete with coffee art, and a lovely morning of catching up is perfectly completed.
Why is Kopapa so pitch-perfect? It doesn’t hurt that co-owners Peter Gordon and Michael McGrath have done it all before, and just as successfully, with Providores and Tapa Room in Marylebone. They’re joined by Adam Wills and Brandon Allen in this venture, and proudly proclaim their New Zealand association on the website. Both Peter and Brandon have Maori heritage and along with Adam and Michael are New Zealand raised. Kopapa is actually Maori for a gathering, to be crowded, a building to store food.
Whether you’re looking to gather and reconnect with old friends, or “sweep away the cobwebs of the week”, Kopapa is the perfect place. Innovative and hearty breakfasts, delicious and energising coffee, and a central yet cosy location.
Kopapa Café and Restaurant
32-34 Monmouth Street
Seven Dials, Covent Garden