My parents used to have wonderful brunch parties when they got back from living in the States, in the late 1960s.

A new phenomenon for us Brits, certainly then, guests drank strong bloody Mary’s and bucks fizz from 11am onwards, accompanied by platters of devilled kidneys, kedgeree, urns of porridge, gleaming kippers, pans of bacon, eggs and roast tomatoes, slivers of smoked salmon and scrambled egg, and piles of pancakes, while we kids scampered around the house trashing it.

The guests would depart unsteadily, when able, at various times during the afternoon/evening, concentrating hard on navigating the front steps as they left.

We’d leave all the windows open for days afterwards to get rid of the heavy cigar smoke that clung mercilessly to the curtains as we stared in awe at the empty bottles.

But despite their best efforts, and wonderful parties, brunch is not something that particularly caught on this side of the pond; too gregarious and laid-back for such a rigid bunch of breakfasters, refusing to budge from our penchant for cereal and the occasional fry up.

But finally that is all changing, and despite also being a traditionalist where my petit dejeuner is concerned, a recent trip to The Anchor in Jericho changed my mind irrevocably.

For a start it’s a wonderful place to spend a morning, the dappled light, reflecting over the old wooden floors and pastel coloured walls. It is a unique space, a retreat from the vagaries of the outside world, where peace and calm reign supreme at this hour of the day.

The new brunch menu was equally as enchanting so we decided to stagger our feast and ordered boiled eggs and soldiers (£3) and a bowl of muesli with baked yoghurt, berries and honey (£4.50) to start.

You must order the boiled eggs just for the sheer pleasure of the pottery egg cups – a charming start from a purely aesthetic point of view, although our ‘appetisers’ also came up trumps on the taste front.

The kitchens sadly couldn’t tell us where the eggs were from (local is always preferable) their runny yellow yolks contrasted nicely with the white flesh, plundered by the thick bready soldiers.

The muesli was a great mix of crunchy granola, sweet honey, smooth yoghurt and piquant berries, all made freshly so defiantly unsoggy (a pet hate).

The smashed avocado on toast (£5) with two poached eggs (£8) was less of a success. Choosing the former, the ‘trendy’ dish was disappointingly bland and needed significant seasoning.

The pancakes however more than made up for it and we shared them with alacrity, served with both bacon and maple syrup (£7.25) the bacon satisfyingly crispy, the pancakes generous if needing to be slightly lighter, the maple syrup adding that smoky sweet finish.

As for the coffee, I drank cup after cup of the smooth, rich blend, served by wonderful restaurant manager Manu Loi, in more beautiful crockery.

If I was being critical I would have liked a more extensive menu which included favourites such as kedgeree, kippers, a French toast/eggy bread addition, something more international and spicy such as huevos rancheros, plus a smoothie to wash it all down with.

Having only just introduced the new concept, it’s early days yet at The Anchor, and still a new experience that I can heartily recommend, because the black and white parquet flooring and palmed pots invoke somewhere far more exotic than this north Oxford enclave.

And as I listened to my daughter telling me about her new school, as she sipped her hot chocolate, I realised what a wonderful alternative brunch is, because it’s a great way to have a proper catch up, laugh and relax, when you are at your best. Neither does it take up vast swathes of your day or wallet.

My parents were onto something then all those years ago, because brunch can be as sociable or unsociable as you want it to be, which is a luxury in itself these days.

So why not start at The Anchor?

The Anchor,

2 Hayfield Road,



01865 510282