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Pavillion Cafe Victoria Park
Photograph: Alys TomlinsonVictoria Park

The (literally) coolest restaurants in London

Eat, drink and be breezy at these seven spots

Written by
Leonie Cooper

It’s hot out there. You don’t need us to tell you that, but if you do, please may we come over to your house immediately because it’s evidently way more comfortable than our roasting sauna-flat right now.

Despite said heat, we still all need to eat. But maybe a sticky leather restaurant banquette seat into which your sweat will pool mercilessly around your clammy arse isn’t quite ‘the vibe’. So instead of staying in with a nowt but a bowl of ice-cubes and a frozen towel for company, we’ve got together a list of the seven coolest restaurants in London – places where you can eat, drink and be breezy. 

1. Gremio De Brixton

A sweet new tapas spot, Gremio has many things going for it. However, in the sweatiest week of the year we’re interested in one thing and one thing only – the fact that you can find it in the actual crypt of a church. And if there’s one thing we know about crypts is that they’re super-dupa cool (and also possibly haunted, but let’s focus on the positives, eh?)

St Matthew’s Church, SW2 1JF.

2. St John

Remember when you were a kid and wise old adults would tell you to wear white in the sun because it reflects the heat and cools you down? Well, St John were obviously listening. Their OG Smithfields’ restaurant is a vision of crisp white tablecloths, white linen napkins and whitewashed walls. The high ceilings in their airy atrium – which as of July 19 will remain an extension of the restaurant rather than returning to a more casual bar – will also leave you feeling chill, rather than ill. 

26 St John St, EC1M 4AY.

3. Noble Rot

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When the sun is raging you can always rely on the decently lowkey back room of Noble Rot to serve up some every so slightly moody temps. Dark wood, cold wine and their sweet summer set menu – £18 for two courses, £23 for three – is just what you need when Bloomsbury is hotter than Havana. 

51 Lamb's Conduit St, WC1N 3NB.

4. Westfield

Wait, wait – hear us out. Massive shopping centres not only have the latest in air-conditioning technology, but also some pretty decent food options. Hit up the original Westfield in White City for Balans, Bleecker Burger, Dirty Vegan, Franco Manca, Master Bao, Pizza Pilgrims, Seoul Bird, Wahaca and loads more while you get totally blasted with cool air. 

Ariel Way, W12 7GF.

5. The Pavilion Café

Catch some boating-lake-side breeze at this east London fave. For over 15 years this Victoria Park classic has been serving up cut-above snacks, coffees and brunch, which you can then take to a cool, calm bench spot as you casually melt into the ether.

Old Ford Rd, E9 7DE.

6. The River Café

Sometimes the oldies are the goodies. The restaurant that made the rest of the world think that London could actually be all right at food y’know? is also good for when we reach the sizzling summer top temps. With its riverside terrace, this elite Italian is the perfect place to get some Thames-y air to blow away the hairdryer heat. It’s expensive, sure, but you can’t put a price on a cool, fresh breeze can you? (Okay, we’ve looked and maybe you can – it’s £39, but that does also include chargrilled Scottish scallops with zucchini fritti, chilli and mint.)

Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, W6 9HA.

7. Cafe in the Crypt 

You’ll have to wait until August 4 until this central London cold-spot swings open its doors for the summer, but if it’s still super-steamy, it’ll have been worth holding out for. Find in on the corner of Trafalgar Square, beneath the grand St Martin-in-the-Fields, and take a sigh of sweaty relief as you step under original brick-vaulted ceilings. Food is sustainable and well-sourced, with meat from Swaledale Butchers and cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy. Tombstones line the floor too, which is chilling in its own special way.  

Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JH.

Where to go when London’s just too damn hot.

Food and drink you can order straight to the park.

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