Alfresco Dining in London
Fun fact: Pea and Ham soup is often called “London Particular” because of its somewhat foggy appearance. That is to say, London has a bad reputation of smoggy air and pollution. The Big Smoke isn’t a moniker pulled out of thin (but apparently smoggy) air, after all. So a few eyebrows might be raised when you read our headline today… who doesn’t love a side dish of pollution with their picnic? With today’s article we are digging our heels in the great, London soil and fighting back; Head outdoors for your fun, frolics and feasts – sometimes it’s good to not keep all the fun behind closed doors!
Let’s Raise the Roof
There is nothing quite like a rooftop view. Looking down on the hustle and bustle of people chasing their dreams and going about their lives, what could be better? A meal and a glass of wine while you’re at it, of course.
Easily considered some of London’s finest cuisine, Coq d’Argent, located in the heart of Bank, is the oh-so-trendy treat for city dwellers and workers alike. The chefs provide contemporary French cuisine with a continually evolving seasonal menu whilst the location serves up some treats of its own; the Shard, the Gherkin and the car-melting, wind-tunnel-creating Walkie Talkie. Take in the city that we so often take for granted, and take it in style.
Raw fish on the 39th floor might sound like a test for anyone’s stomach, but Sushi Samba located in the glittering fortress of the Heron Tower is one of London’s most elegant rooftop establishments. It is home to one of London’s highest terraces, where punters can almost reach out and touch the top of the Gherkin (though this is, surprisingly, not something we suggest you try).
Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill is the perfect spot for a more refined palate. Served some of London’s best oysters, sea food and naturally bred meat, the outdoor heated terrace gives diners the luxury of a free dinner show – Londoners. Rushing about Swallow Street, five minutes away from the theatre district and opposite the Royal Academy, get a real taste of city living with your entrée.
It counts as a meal if you ask for an olive in your Martini, right?
Fancy sipping a Fortnum and Mason award-winning cocktail by the riverside whilst toasting a marshmallow and having a trendy pop-up cook for you? Then come south of the river for one night only. The cocktails are unique, botanical concoctions which are served around a campfire on top of a rooftop garden. If you get peckish, head out onto the terrace where different food vendors pop-up weekly, whether it’s souvlaki from some Kylie-obsessed cooks (http://www.justopenedlondon.com/i-should-be-souvlaki/) or street-eats from all across London.
For something truly unique, why not head to the circus… of sorts. This beer garden in West London (nearest tube Acton Town) is lined with booths paying homage to the circus, only this time you get to sip on a beer instead of some watered down slushie. Winner of DesignMyNight’s 2015/16 Pub of the Year award, this is a beer garden to make London proud.
The Magic Roundabout
Not a tribute to the trippy childhood cartoon show, this is a London hot-spot for anyone sick of the same-old. Sitting literally in the middle of Old Street Roundabout and accessible via a secret staircase in the tube station The Magic Roundabout serves London’s city-folk the finest drinks and food in a completely fresh setting. This is one roundabout you won’t be in a hurry to get off.
To Market, To Market
Borough Market has become a destination in itself with tourists and city-dwellers alike, with its ever-evolving vendors and central location. Whether you’re looking for homegrown cheeses from around the world, Turkish dining, European dining, wines, biscuits etc Borough Market offers it all. Spend the day perusing the independent vendors and traders, and stop off for lunch at any of the chic-and-cosmopolitan restaurants and cafes nearby. For cheap and cheerful hearty Italian, try Alma’s just by London Bridge station or if you’re feeling a tad more upmarket Edwin's serves up seasonal European cuisine in a glamorous Victorian parlour setting.
Pick a Perfect Picnic Spot
Whether you are budgeting and have opted to bring a packed lunch to work as per some wise people we know once suggested or you’re just in dire need of some fresh air, London has the perfect spots whether it’s a quick al-fresco lunch hour or a day lounging-and-lunching in leisure.
The saying ‘every rose has its thorn’ applies to this little patch of manicured greenery in the heart of unmanicured roadworks and high streets. Highbury Fields are slap bang in the centre of the ever-changing, ever-so-varied Highbury and Islington area. If you are an avid people watcher, this is the spot for you. Like most of London, the Highbury and Islington area really throws together all walks of life, and if you have an hour or two so spare, lay back in the sun and watch as worlds collide. Nearby Upper Street is home to some of London’s greatest little cafes and bakeries, such as Belle Epoque so grab yourself a treat to savour beforehand – and don’t worry, calories don’t count when you eat outside.
‘The Walks’ aka Gray’s Inn Fields
There’s something about these fields that prosper in the heart of the city, not far from Chancery Lane and Holborn, that feel as if they are designed specifically for city workers who just need a time of quiet reflection; and we’re not just talking about the highly unusual opening times. The Walks are only open to the public 12:00pm to 2:30pm, providing the perfect slice of old world London to modern city workers. The fields are perfectly kept and hark back to the days of Sir Francis Bacon.
We hope we’ve argued our point sufficiently. London has just as much to offer in the open air as it does hidden away in all its lanes and side streets. Though our city’s grass may not always look it, sometimes the grass is greener on the other side of those doors.