By Emilia Dunne
Just finished exams? Let’s go for brunch! Having a post-night-out debrief? Brunch. Sun’s out? Brunch. Parents coming to visit? Brunch! (On them, though.)
Durham’s brunching tradition is a proud one, and it’s easy to see why. What the city lacks in nightlife and attractions, it makes up for in casual, late-morning food spots. Brunching is a sport that anyone can get involved with and requires no physical prowess. Therefore, no matter who you are, you have an opinion on which spot provides the best experience, and I’m offering you my two cents.
Flat White Kitchen:
Flat White Kitchen, arguably the most obvious brunch spot in Durham, is a cult favourite. The menu is vast and caters to everyone as they offer sweet, savoury, and vegan dishes as well as fun drinks like matcha and milkshakes. The interior is beautiful, making the experience a bit more unique, and once you’re inside, the staff are speedy and kind. Sadly, I consider this place overrated because the time it takes between arriving and receiving your food is around an hour. Every time I walk past, there is a queue, and although the food is good, I cannot say it’s worth the wait. The pancakes are a popular option; they taste as delicious as they look. However, after interrogating a few people, they all said the same thing: they are way too sweet and sickly to be finished. My experience of the ‘Veg fry’ was disappointing- the tiny poached egg was severely undercooked, it was missing hash browns, and the taste didn’t wow me. Hence, it wasn’t worth £13. That being said, you cannot call yourself a Durham student if you don’t visit at least once.
Chapters receives a lot of hype but is it deserved? It offers beautiful homemade cakes and good coffee, which is what it is best known for. I believe the food is a bit of a letdown, however. Whilst the prices aren’t terrible, the dishes lack quality (and hash browns). The taste and presentation are extremely average so visiting once is enough. The service is quick, but the atmosphere doesn’t scream ‘cute, fun brunch place’ as the interior is forgettable and dingy.
Leonard’s Coffee House:
Located near WiffWaff, this brunch place is high quality. It offers a quaint interior without any frills in a much quieter spot. I’ve never had an issue finding a seat, and the menu is generous enough to find something you like, even if you’re veggie/vegan. They have a lovely selection of cakes to try, and the food is delicious. I’d even go so far as to say their pancakes are better than Flat White’s. My only complaint is that the service could be a lot quicker. All in all, it’s up there with my favourites.
I’ll quickly mention this cafe as Tripadvisor’s highest-rated brunch place in Durham, but it doesn’t serve brunch… It has an intimate and quirky interior full of plants, and it serves good quality cakes and paninis but again, not a brunch place! I recommend Cafédral if you’re looking for a cosy and botanic setting to have your coffee and scone.
Waffley Good Company:
I cannot stop going on about how much I love this place. I go so often I now get recognised by the staff. I have dragged numerous friends to try their spectacular brunch waffle! They pair a full English with maple syrup and a fluffy waffle. It is a shockingly perfect combo that offers a lighter brunch alternative – they even do a veggie version. Unsurprisingly, their sweet waffles are mind-blowing, and you can choose to have half savoury and half sweet if that floats your boat. I don’t usually love waffles because they can be quite stodgy, but Waffley Good have mastered their recipe, so you can count on a light and airy meal. The only downside is that the tiny, intimate seating area prevents good gossip.
I’ve saved the best till last. Riverview Kitchen is where I bring my friends and family because it consistently impresses me. Yes, there is always a queue, but, unlike at Flat White, it moves very quickly. As the name suggests, the views of the river create an unrivalled experience (although I’m yet to get a window table). You cannot fault the menu: it offers pancakes, wraps, a variety of eggs on toast, bao buns and the full English (with hash browns). It is relatively affordable, the portion sizes are generous, and I’m always impressed with the food’s quality. Because dogs are also welcome, it’s common to be greeted by a fluffy face when walking in. This, along with the bustling atmosphere and unique views, guarantees a memorable visit. Riverview Kitchen, therefore, gets my vote as the best brunch in Durham.
Image credit: Emilia Dunne