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).
‘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.
A Homerton café and bar tucked away down at the end of Mackintosh Lane. There's usually plenty going on here, from live music and DJ sets to supper clubs, art exhibitions and life-drawing. And if you want to work? There's hot-desking here, too. The menu here changes regularly but options might include pumpkin and red bean soup, huevos rancheros, chorizo baps with hummus, rocket and tomato, veggie pasties and a cauliflower, aubergine, chickpea and coconut curry. Drinks include good-quality coffee, matcha tea, Aperol spritz and a selection of beers by the bottle.