The London dining scene is famously fickle. Restaurants are seasonal affairs, trendy pop-ups are here one day, down south the next, and our insatiable hunger for the ‘Next Big Thing’ has made standing reservations at old faithfuls a thing of the past.
So when Moorgate all-day diner Bad Egg quietly closed its doors last October to rebrand as barbecue joint Little Smoke, owners Noble Inns probably assumed their customers would shrug, sigh and move on to the next, with die-hard fans able to get their fill at the weekend pop-up.
Not so, in the case of this City favourite, for less than six months down the track demand for Bad Egg’s Tex-Mex diner-style brunches grew so strong (and waiting lists for weekend bookings so long) that they had no choice but to extinguish Little Smoke and bring back the Bad, full-time.
It means the return of the wonderfully dirty all-day menu of baked eggs, tacos, ribs, wings, burgers, plus a load of Asian-inspired slaws, sides and salads. The type of food your arteries will scold you for but it’s so worth the spanking.
Central to this offering remains weekend brunch, a curated offering of the most popular egg-based dishes on the all-day menu, from which diners can make their choice of two per person.
Stick with unlimited coffee, freshly squeezed OJ or soft drinks, or upgrade to bottomless Bloody Marys, prosecco and mimosas for your two-hour timeslot, which, judging by the general raucousness from neighbouring groups of revellers, most people opt for.
And this is where Bad Egg rises to the top of the Capital’s arguably oversaturated bottomless brunch market. Diners demanding the volume from their £35 often results in a decline in service standards; whether staff are simply run off their feet refilling drinks at twice or three times the usual standard or rightly fed up with slurred cries of “another one, sir!”
But neither was the case at 5pm on a Saturday afternoon at Bad Egg, where the party was in full swing and the staff were having just as much fun as the birthday girls and boys, all the while weaving between tables to take orders and top up tipples with ease.
It’s a far smoother operation than the one we saw on a visit to the restaurant in its infancy back in 2015 and now matches the quality of the food coming out of the kitchen.
Breakfast tacos are surprisingly flavour-packed for what is essentially scrambled eggs in a tortilla topped with avocado, with a smokey chipotle and punchy salsa working wonders.
Spices and sauces are again the heroes of the chilaquiles, a sort of pimped out nachos topped with chipotle, guacamole, peppers, goat’s curd, jalapeños and a fried egg.
Pulled pork, beans and kimchi on sourdough is not for the faint of heart or stomach, with a rich salty sauce that could be a mite heavy for this time of the day, but the macandchini – fried balls of mac and cheese – were bang on; diner food for the modern diner. Sign us up for that standing reservation.