Brunch is a weekend necessity. In the monotonous weekly routine of straight-out days in the library, followed by a heavy night of blowing off steam in Wiff Waff or Klute, we need something exciting to look forward to. So, whether it is to brighten up a dreary hangover on a Saturday or ammunition for a work-driven Sunday, we’ve been making the rounds of Durham’s finest cafes to put together a review of where to find the finest pancakes, the tastiest Full English or just anything involving eggs and bacon.
It is not the Poached-Egg-Sour-Dough-Bloody-Mary affair you’d find in the fancy cafes lining the streets of London, but Durham’s cafes shouldn’t be overlooked for their breakfast-brunch offerings. The places we’ve selected serve a hearty selection of traditional brunch-time favourites, plus you don’t have the faff of waiting in line for half an hour because of a ‘no reservations’ policy. With reasonable student deals, you can even eat and drink for less than a fiver if you’re lucky!
First stop, The Pancake House. A little gem hidden away at the top of Crossgate, which remained hidden unbeknownst to us until we moved to the depths of the Viaduct in our second year. Its location even gives you the chance to work up an appetite if you’re coming up from town. As part of The Georgian Townhouse Bed & Breakfast, the atmosphere is that of a cozy country cottage. Although small, the quirky décor and scattering of brightly coloured cushions makes it feel as if you’re being served in your own living room, in the best possible way!
It is the pancakes themselves, however, that will have us coming back for more. If you’re the decadent breakfast type there is a variety of fillings on offer, from Orange, Caramel and Grand Marnier or Black cherry and Chocolate to the more simple Lemon-Sugar classic. Perhaps more ‘brunch’ appropriate, they serve a selection of delicious savoury options, from a sophisticated Smoked Salmon and Asparagus to Mediterranean Veg with Pine Nuts and Basil. They even do special breakfast pancakes: Bacon and Maple Syrup or Smoked Salmon with Scrambled Egg – both are part of an all-day deal and so are served with a regular tea, coffee or juice all for £6.95.
We were feeling particularly indulgent, so we decided to go all out and choose Bacon, Blue Cheese and Leek and a Banana, Honey and Cinnamon (served with crème fraiche). We can’t fault them – a 10/10. Ranging from £5.85 (for sweet) to £7.95 (for savoury), these aren’t the cheapest pancakes in the world but the portions are generous and certainly worth the expense. We would recommend taking your parents here for a treat. Visit their website here.
Bill’s Homemade Blueberry and Buttermilk Pancakes will take you straight back to your childhood. They may not be quite as spectacular as what you’ll find at the Pancake House, but the syrupy golden crunch and fluffy interior makes them decidedly moreish. At £5.95 they’re not cheap either, but are definitely worth it.
Chapters Tea Rooms is not one to be overlooked for their breakfast selection. You can’t go wrong with their hearty yet non-greasy Full English – the delicious little chipolata sausages were a real treat and the bacon is just the right amount of crispy. The thoughtful presentation was an added bonus. The relaxed atmosphere here makes it the ideal place for a lazy Sunday morning brunch. Nestled on Elvet Bridge, the big windows are perfect for people watching. Chapters are even offering our Bubble readers student deals of coffee & cake for £3.25 (3pm onwards, mon-fri) or bacon/sausage sandwich with tea/coffee for £3.25 (mon-fri) with a student card. You can find their Facebook page here.
Café Continental also do a great Full English, once again not too greasy but still incredibly satisfying. They also do a slightly quirkier breakfast Galette, two rashers of bacon and melted cheese served in a light and crispy crepe topped with a fried egg. A lighter option for those that can’t quite manage the Full English and very delicious. Café Continental do a wide range of the traditional breakfast options, and are also offering 10% off for all Bubble readers and anyone with a loyalty card. A real bargain! Visit their website for full menu details.
Leonard’s Coffee House is a great find. If you can find it that is…Located round the corner from Wiff Waff, they make a mean creamy scrambled eggs on toast with bacon or a perfect poachie with crispy pancetta. The classic bacon butty is also featured and a delightful array of sweet baked goods is always on offer if that’s what you’re craving.
The Jumping Bean Café, located on Neville Street (off North Road) is something a little bit different. Here you will be served up vegetarian and vegan fare by a very friendly owner in a cozy and eclectic setting. This place scores full marks for atmosphere. The brie and honey toastie is suitably delicious and the veggie sausage and fried onion sandwich is sure to cure those hunger pangs. Crumpets with spreads are also on offer along with poached eggs on toast or granola and yoghurt if that’s what takes your fancy. Check out their Facebook page here.
Café Continental do a truly fabulous Cinnamon Toast: crunchy bread soaked and drizzled in sweet, golden madeira syrup with juicy raisins to finish it off. Perfect with a cup of tea on the side. We would come back just to get one more bite of their heavenly cinnamon toast, and at just £2.70 it is a seriously sweet deal.
Flat White and Bill’s both do a super refreshing green detox smoothie that will leave you feeling energized and ready to kick start the day. The selection of tasty fruit smoothies at Café Continental is also highly recommended.
So, hopefully the next time you get tired of staring into your bowl of cornflakes this brief guide will help you make an informed decision on where to treat yourself to a hearty breakfast or brunch…and don’t forget to get your Bubble student deals at Café Continental or Chapters!
If you decide you can’t quite make it out your front door tomorrow morning, here are our favourite make-it-at-home brunch picks…
If you want crispy-salty-deliciousness try these Sweetcorn Fritters from The Londoner.
If it’s a healthy option you’d prefer, how about making this Almond & Pumpkin Seed Bread from Deliciously Ella?