Restaurants in the City have many roles to fill – from meeting rooms to celebration halls – and they do this in a variety of ways. Sauterelle is on the mezzanine level of the Royal Exchange, so diners can watch the action of the shopping centre from above. Or, for those who just want a quick lunch, there's City Càphê, one of the best bánh mì (basically a Vietnamese baguette) delis in the whole of London.
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There’s a dedicated entrance for the restaurants in Heron Tower, from where a glass lift will whizz you in seconds up to Duck & Waffle on the 40th floor, or its glitzier sibling Sushisamba two floors below. The views are, as you might expect, stunning – if you’re pointed in the right direction and, preferably, sitting at a window table (many of which are for two diners only).Read more
‘Visitor bag search’, the sign read. Next to it was a walk-through metal detector and a burly security guard. He had a glint in his eye, the kind that says, ‘I’ve got a box of latex gloves here, and if I find so much as a nail file in your purse, I won’t be afraid to use them.’ So we approached the receptionist instead. ‘Is this the way to City Social?’ ‘No,’ she sighed, ‘this is the main entrance, you’ll need the side door, opposite Wagamama.’ Happily, there’s only a single gatekeeper at the alternative entrypoint, so once you negotiate a long, oppressive tunnel and an express lift so fast it’ll make your ears pop – boom – you’re in.Read more
Bird of Smithfield
Do you ever tire of queuing for pop-up diners that serve dog’s dinners? Or of ‘celebrity’ chefs who make you think: Get me out of here? Then join the club. This club – one that requires no membership – is the opposite of exclusive, and where the staff greet you with smiles. This way, Sir or Madam, we have a comfy seat ready, and your favourite drink. We’ll not tell you about our c-r-a-z-y new concept, or insist we get the table back in an hour. We just want you to come here, have a lovely time and go home happy. Bird’s five, narrow floors cover the gamut from rooftop bar, smart dining room, lounge bar, private dining room and basement cocktail bar. It’s open from breakfast to dinner, then late into the night. Yet it still feels like a smart, if slightly rus in urbe, members’ club with its well-drilled service, laid-back vibe and Country Living decor. Chef-proprietor Alan Bird has headed the kitchen at The Ivy and was executive chef at the Soho House Group, so it’s little wonder the menu also reflects a particular kind of modern Britishness. A starter of lightly soused baby vegetables had an intense, earthy flavour of carrot and radish – the very essence of a springtime garden. A deep-fried, breaded egg released its molten centre to cloak the crisp veg. A buttery small sole was topped with savoury brown shrimps and the slightly bitter leaves of foraged sea beet and sea purslane. Calf’s liver was trimmed into tidy tiles then pan-fried and topped with sage butter, crisped bac