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.
Pop Brixton is community initiative in the heart of Brixton, run in partnership with Lambeth Council, showcasing a selection of young businesses (with plenty of restaurants). Developed in reaction to high street brands dominating storefronts across London, Pop Brixton covers over 1,400 sq m and features over 50 traders – all of which are independent, and a majority of which are local. Operating out of an eclectic jumble of shipping containers, the site is home to four bars and 16 street food stalls and sit-down restaurants, including the highly rated Indian joint Kricket. There’s also a large greenhouse space for communal dining. Alongside all this there's a changing schedule of music and entertainment events. Pop Brixton is currently open all year round, with an open-air look in the summer, and weather-proofing to keep visitors warm and dry during the winter. Entrance is free but, of course, the food and drink isn't.