“Where are you going for dinner today?” Drunch. “Oh brunch, where are you going?” No, I’m going for dinner at Drunch. “Why on earth would you eat dinner at brunch?” DRUNCH, THE RESTAURANT IS CALLED DRUNCH.
Drunch, a name that can evidently cause much confusion when discussing your friday evening plans. Tucked away just behind the blur of Bond street, this petite establishment serves as a restaurant, cafe, and an outdoor burn-your-lungs-to-a-crisp lounge (shisha). All the meat here is halal.
Drunch very much sits on the line between a restaurant and a cafe, and serves a variety of breakfasts, brunches, pastries, smoothies, salads and fully fledged meals, drawing inspiration from mainly European and East Asian dishes. And in that sense, it’s pretty niche, and a little bit odd. After receiving the results of my written exams last week (and passing alhamdulillah), I felt I deserved a nice slab of meat, and so there was no question that I would be ordering the sirloin steak. Steak meanwhile (I’ve realised that this is going to get a little confusing), decided to opt for a Drunch cheeseburger.
The sirloin steak arrived as what was perhaps a 10 oz, thick-cut slab of a fairly reasonable quality, served with hasselback potatoes, cream spinach, broccoli and a small salad. The steak possessed the excellent medium-rare cook I had asked for, with a beautiful, radiant band of pink running throughout the centre. Each succulent cut oozed with juices, and packed a fair amount of flavour, although a stronger concentration of seasoning would have worked wonders. Furthermore, despite the great medium-rare cook, the steak remained slightly tough. The surrounding fat was even tougher and quite overdone, making it a rather chewy affair on occasion. The accompanying hasselback potatoes were soft and light, with a firm but delicate skin, whilst the cream spinach, thick in consistency and pleasantly mild in richness, served to complement the steak and hasselback potatoes well. The salad was covered in balsamic vinegar, and provided a strong, sharp tang to keep the tastebuds guessing. A very light, guilt-free meal overall, perfect for those of us living a lie and trying to eat clean this summer.
I can only assume that Drunch keep a herd of cheeseburgers in the back, as the cheeseburger possessed a cattle-branded brioche bun. The more I see the word “Drunch”, the more it sounds like an actual word. The cheeseburger as a whole possessed a strong, classical essence of “cheeseburger” with every bite. The patty was of a moderate quality, and the strong cheese melted and meshed with it well, creating a well-balanced flavour of beef, salt and cheese. However, the brioche bun was of an extremely poor quality, being as thin, brittle and unattractive as my hairline. The accompanying fries were also of a pretty lacklustre quality, but had a pleasant salty flavour nonetheless.
With the summer holiday in full swing, and with some actual time to venture out for brunch beyond the local proximity of the dental school, my crosshairs focussed upon Drunch for a return visit. For my hearty brunch, I opted for the “alternative english” with scrambled eggs – the alternative part presumably being merguez sausages and a thick piece of bloomer bread, along with the usual components. The scrambled eggs were very soft and moist, and as someone who isn’t usually a great fan of savoury scrambled eggs, I have to say they were very well-cooked and seasoned, with a light savoury touch that complemented all the other components. The merguez sausages were of a high quality, with a soft interior full of a mildly spicy essence, encased in a firm skin, whilst the bread too was of a high quality, with a firm, crusty texture. The turkey-bacon rashers were piled on quite generously, and were of a good quality, with a crispy outer texture and a slightly salty touch. All these components were complemented well by the accompanying baked beans, and the fresh, soft, warm tomato piece, which acted a pleasantly juicy palate cleanser in between each bite.
Meanwhile, Steak had selected a plate of buttermilk pancakes, and as usual, I had to finish the job and put her plate of leftovers out of its misery. The pancakes were thick, yet fluffy, with a soft texture and a light, airy density, complemented well by the maple syrup which was well balanced and not overly sweet. The bananas provided a complementary sweetness to the rich maple-syrup-pancake duo, whilst the strawberries and blueberries provided a welcomed contrast with their sharp tang, also acting as much needed palate cleansers.
Once we had done away with our mains, we turned to desserts and drinks, but Steak wasn’t interested (blasphemy). I was leaning towards a coffee. Quite amusingly, when I enquired about what is involved in their “signature latte”, the waitress replied “It’s just a regular latte”. I know someone who won’t be winning saleswoman of the year, though I appreciated the honesty. I had a gut-feeling that I might be disappointed, but nonetheless I bit the bullet and ordered a cappuccino, with the reasoning that Drunch is also a cafe and serves breakfast and brunch, so they must serve good coffee right? Sadly not.
My first sip was filled with regret. The brew was extremely thin, with no strength, no depth, and no presence whatsoever – it was as though the first day I walked into a gym had been compressed into a nostalgic, liquid form. Furthermore, the foam was thin and flat in consistency, and the overall ratio of espresso to milk and foam was completely wrong. It was in fact, very close to being nothing more than a lukewarm cup of milk. It was a disappointing note to end on after a lovely meal. Perhaps a better option for next time, (and for yourselves), would be to opt for one of their teas or smoothies, which other food-lovers seem to adore.
Value For Money: 3/5
On our first visit, the sirloin steak cost £20, and Steak’s cheeseburger cost £16, whilst on our second visit, my alternative english came in at £12, and Steak’s buttermilk pancakes cost £8. Generally, starters are around £8-£10, mains are around £15-£20, and drinks are around £3-£5. Drunch have increased the prices slightly so expect to pay a few pounds more for items you see listed on their website. Generally, given the location – primetime Bond street, prices here are somewhat reasonable. The quality of the food, (or at least some of it), isn’t particularly “high-end”, but then, you’re not paying a particularly “high-end” price for a central London establishment.
However, some of the prices are a little odd and are indeed a little unreasonable. For example, my sirloin steak was £20, which is reasonable for a decent cut of moderate quality beef. However, the Drunch cheeseburger, a timid burger of average quality components, is priced at £16 – £4 less than the steak. Perhaps “magic” justifies the price tag, since the location certainly cannot – especially if you consider the fact that Stax Diner sells a monstrous triple-patty warhead for a similar price just a few streets away.
Staff are relatively friendly and service is generally quite quick, though they seem to be rather indifferent to your presence. A little more enthusiasm could go a long way.
Drunch is quite a small restaurant/cafe, with perhaps no more than twenty seats on the ground floor, although there is a basement room which looks rather attractive on their website. The decor is generally quite minimalistic and modern, with a range of black chairs, booths and dark wooden tables both indoors and outdoors in the shisha area. Though the two-seater tables indoors are rather small, so be wary before you order a lot of items in one go, and be prepared to get up close and personal with your dining companion’s face. (Just make sure they’re not ugly).
Finding Drunch should be no problem at all, as it’s a quick two minute walk from Bond street station. Finding parking nearby however, would probably be as easy as finding a smile on a Monday morning train.
Despite the rather cosy conditions inside Drunch, there’s still a sense of privacy. The cosy nature has a positive impact on the overall ambience, and it’s easy to relax and enjoy your meal. Although that might be passive shisha smoking talking there.
Light, clean, well-constructed dishes from a uniquely varied menu seems to be the strong points of Drunch, and it’s definitely worth paying a visit if you’re in the area. Just avoid their coffee if you value the happiness of your tastebuds and the integrity of your coffee-budget.
Drunch continues to leave me with mixed and confused feelings. It’s as though I’ve rushed into a marriage without adequate time to think things through. I feel I should love Drunch because Drunch is great, Drunch has a warming personality, Drunch feeds me very well, and everybody else loves Drunch, but something is holding me back. Perhaps it’s the weirdly incoherent pricing or the fact that my memory is still haunted by that awful first coffee they served me (and let’s be honest, the first coffee/tea is the make or break point of any marriage). Whatever the reason, I cannot be sure, but perhaps the phrase some parents use is in fact true. Perhaps love doesn’t exist straight away. Perhaps I will “grow to love” Drunch more as time goes on. Perhaps. What I do know, is they remain a strong blip on my restaurant map, and for some reason, I can’t help but be drawn to them.
Originally Published: 23/05/15
1 Woodstock Street
London W1C 2AA
Telephone: 020 7495 2020