London food, coffee and cocktails this winter.
As the cold and dreary days of winter set in on cities around Europe; London with its rain, wind and distinct lack of snow bunkers down. As tourists shy away and locals avoid the streets opting to stay indoors, pubs, cafes and warm, dry spaces evolve into winter wonderlands. With no shortage of high design, new places to visit from converted warehouses and basements to lofts, old pubs and stores being restored and reborn, London offers high quality produce matched with impeccable service. Whether you’re living in the city or visiting for a third, forth or fifth time, there is always somewhere new to explore in this mega city that offers a unique take on old favourites.
Assembly has a number of locations around greater London including Shoreditch and Bank. With a warm and cozy interior – wood paneling, spacious seating and hues of green and blue – the cafe delivers on space, something many London cafes fail to offer. There is no table service here but the self service counter ensures a limited wait for coffee. The cafe also has light snacks from croissants, toasted sandwiches and muesli to cakes, slices and biscuits. The coffee is husky and dense, rare again in an over saturated light roast market. Using beans from all over London this cafe is great for decent coffee and snack first thing in the morning.
Tube station: Bank.
Points for novelty factor here, the Attendant fit out is located in an old urinal on Foley street around the corner from the BBC Broadcasting house. After laying empty for nearly 50 years, the space was converted into a tiny cafe with a surprising amount of seating. Still equip with porcelain urinals and hair dryers the space works well as a pop-in-pop-out cafe and does offer soup, salads, sandwiches and snacks. The coffee is lightly roasted, working better for filter coffee rather than milk based. Made with care, the flavours are almost tea like in a long black but delivers a suitable punch of caffeine after just one cup.
Tube station: Goodge St.
Technically coffee roasters, this New Zealand business is all about coffee, food and fine dining. Like Caravan (see my glistening review here), Ozone has developed an unbreakable formula using every inch of their large warehouse space in Shoreditch. Over two levels, the roastery downstairs with training rooms and additional large-scale seating is both a workspace and dining space. On the ground floor an open plan kitchen perches as a centrepiece around bench style and bar seating which offers a sense of hype and urgency as customers watch the chefs work. The food is both fresh and hearty with a detailed egg centric all-day breakfast menu including baked eggs, big brekkies, omelettes and modern takes on Benedict and florentine. The current winter menu offers a range or coffee roasted downstairs including a spicy winter blend as well as Sunday bunch cocktails, wine by the glass or bottle and cold pressed juices.
Tube station: Old St.
An institution across hipster regions of the world, Ace hotels are a beacon for modern luxury with fine dining restaurants, cafes and bars compacted into the lobby space. The Shoreditch branch is no different with freelancers tapping away on their computers in the communal working spaces, dogs curled up under their seat and either a coffee or cocktail resting on a table or footstool nearby. The space is divided into little open-plan rooms with Inca style floor mats and wall hangings creating division and privacy in an otherwise wide-open space. The bright botanical bar at the back of the lobby is classic and traditional despite its surrounding with well trained bar stuff equip to make any cocktail on or off the sizeable menu. With seasonal specials and experimental fusions, the Ace hotel lobby bar has everything under one roof.
Tube station: Shoreditch High St.