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.
The owners of this City schnitzel specialist bring an Aussie influence to the classic Austrian dish of crumbed-then-fried chicken breast. That apparently means cold stubbies in hand and Men at Work on the radio. The schnitzels themselves, though, are authentically Austrian. They come served in a salad box or in a sandwich, served with potato salad, coleslaw, rocket, cucumber and tomato, and sauces that include basil mayo, chilli mayo, chilli salsa and truffle mushroom. You can add bacon, cheese and another schnitzel, if you're hungry. Desserts are also available – think Nutella doughnuts, brownies made with macadamia nuts, and sticky buns with Nutella and salted caramel.
Venue says: “What is a good schnit? A good schnit is a freshly filleted chicken breast that has been crumbed then fried to perfection.”