5 August 2016

Why you need to brunch at Brother Marcus, Balham

Living in London, there isn't a shortage of places you can go for brunch. In fact, there are so many options that it feels silly to go to the same place twice... unless there's a valid reason to return. I'm a commitment-phobe bruncher, but Brother Marcus might have converted me.

A newbie on the restaurant scene, Brother Marcus has only been open for 2 months and is located a 2 minute walk from Balham station. The exterior is unassuming, but it's in good company, neighbouring trendy Chicken Shop.

I arrived just before my reservation at 10:30, and as I gave the interiors a quick once over - wooden tables, cacti, art on the walls - I wondered what the establishment was bringing to Balham that it doesn't already have.

Despite the hubbub - it's was extremely warm day, so everyone seemed to be brunching to celebrate the occasion - I was warmly greeted with a smile and enthusiastic "good morning!"

The owners were behind the bar when they greeted me, taking a hands-on approach to the business, very much in the honeymoon stage of their opening.

It's when I'm led outside that one of Brother Marcus's USPs becomes apparent - an adorable enclosed garden which acts as a suntrap in the warmer months.

The only thing better than brunch, is brunch alfresco.

The cafe's namesake derives from the fact they have a brother called Marcus, simple as that - and the menu reflects this. Dishes on offer include the "Sister Special" (avocado, spinach, poached eggs & bacon on toast) and the "Brother Special" (smoked salmon, asparagus and scrambled eggs on toast), with the option of having your bread sourdough, seeded or gluten-free.

There's also a good choice of salads and sandwiches, and a single sweet dish (the "Sugar Daddy", i.e. french toast) that you can adapt depending on how indulgent you wish to be.

My friend, feeling a little worse-for-wear, kept things simple with scrambled eggs on toast, which she said was absolutely delicious.

Hangover-free, I was ready for a feast, so ordered the "Sister Special" (sans avo, as one of the few people in London, if not the world, who cannot stand the stuff), and the "Sugar Daddy" with lashes of fruit.

The dishes were presented beautifully, and it took all my blogger discipline to get some good photos of the food before we gorged.

My poached eggs were perfection - the most satisfyingly runny, orange yolks - with just a dash of pepper. The bacon was salty and crispy, everything bacon should be.

And the french toast... oh my life. Please, please, get this to share. Coated with cinnamon, the sugar had caramelised around the edges and it was the most divine thing. The fruit and mascarpone, finished with a drizzle of maple syrup, balanced the sweetness of the toast. I made a strong effort to finish it (in addition to my egg course, YOLO) and very nearly succeeded.

The "Sugar Daddy" in all its glory

Ooof, it was good.

The other USP about Brother Marcus are the friendly staff - they've really taken the "service with a smile" mantra on board. Maybe it's something to do with the fact the owners and staff are all former school friends, but the vibe is undeniably relaxed, friendly and well, happy. Not in a sickening way, mind; it's just makes the place somewhere you'll want to linger at, and the rapport between staff and customer feels very natural.

I know what you're thinking - it's because you were reviewing that they made a special effort with you, and the service won't be the same as a regular customer - but I can assure you that isn't true, as our waiter didn't even know I was blogging... I told him at the end.

So if you're looking for a friendly, relaxed brunch in the south-west suburbs, Brother Marcus fits the bill, and then some. The beautiful food, beautiful staff (inside and out... trust me) and secluded garden makes this a special spot. I wish the team all the best, and definitely plan to return before the summer is out.

Find Brother Marcus on Chestnut Grove, and follow them on Twitter and Instagram for mouth-watering images and foodie updates.

**I visited Brother Marcus in exchange for a review, but as always, all opinions expressed are my own. 


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