London culture

10 Canalside Cafes in London (Visit London Blog)

The Counter Cafe

As London’s picturesque canals become increasingly popular with walkers and cyclists, more and more canalside cafes are popping up along London’s towpaths. We pick 10 canalside eateries where you can sit and watch boats bobbing, the sun shining on the water and the world go by. Bliss.

The Counter Café

At independent café and coffee roastery The Counter Café (pictured top), you get a view not just of the canal but the Olympic stadium – which is just 100 metres away across the water. Grab a seat on the outdoor terrace to enjoy their popular pies, excellent coffee and amazing brunches. Save time to explore the latest exhibition in the Stour Space, the social enterprise which the café is part of.

Towpath Café

From Islington, the Regent’s Canal stretches further east to Hoxton – and the Towpath Café (near Whitmore Bridge). Opened by food photographer Jason Lowe and his food-writer wife Lori de Mori, the café serves up a small but delicious selection of Italian specialities. They have no phone number, website and only accept cash, so why not take their lead, switch off your mobile and indulge in some people watching!

Ribeira London

Neighbouring Towpath Café is another canalside favourite: Ribeira London. This time food comes with a Latin twist, served in beautifully designed surroundings. The chilled-out sister restaurant to Old Street’s Floripa, Ribeira is the place to go for anything from coffee to cocktails, and dinner to all-day (well, ‘til 4pm) brunch at the weekend.

The Proud Archivist. Photo by Luke Hayes

The Proud Archivist

Close to Kingsland Basin on Regent’s Canal (nearest station: Haggerston Overground), The Proud Archivist – like InSpiral Lounge – wears many hats. Gallery, bar, restaurant, café, events space… Seasonal, locally-inspired dishes are top of the menu and change all the time, while current/upcoming events on the social calendar include Secret Theatre’s Diary of a Sociopathic Freakozoid and the exhibition Miniature Salon.

King's Cross Filling Station

King’s Cross Filling Station

Its name may suggest a petrol forecourt, but King’s Cross Filling Station is anything but. Behind its contemporary, glass architecture and neon signage, you’ll find Shrimpy’s Deluxe Dinette & Terrace – and during the warmer month, the Outside Grill & Bar. On the dinette menu: everything from snackettes like ‘frickles’ (deep fried picked chillies), to crab burgers, to chocolate & pistachio sundae. Fill us up!

Ragged School Museum café

The Ragged School Museum is a little-known, free London attraction that offers a fascinating insight into Victorian England – and specifically what it was like to be a pupil in the charity school that once stood on this site. As well as a reconstructed domestic Victorian kitchen, there’s the real-life café – serving hot and cold drinks and snacks. Not a destination in its own right, but good for a quick refreshment after exploring the museum.

InSpiral Lounge in CamdenInSpiral Lounge

A wonderful haven in the heart of Camden, InSpiral Lounge is part eco-café, part music venue, part shop. Take a pew in the seats overlooking the canal and tuck into a plate of vegan food, some raw cake, a scoop of vegan ice cream or one of the feel-good smoothies. Stop by in the evening for live music, poetry and weekend DJ nights.

Lock 7 CafeLock 7 Café

London’s canal towpaths are popular with cyclists, so Lock 7 was opened to cater for those on two wheels (and two feet). In fact it claims to be London’s first cycle café. So alongside the café serving the usual coffees, teas and snacks, there’s a bike workshop and shop.

The Pumphouse Café

Sitting alongside Regent’s Canal in Islington, The Pumphouse Café is located (as the name suggests) in a converted brick pump house – with great views over the City Road Basin. As well as fresh coffees and homemade cakes there are vegetarian and meat lunches if you need something more substantial.

Cafe Laville

Café Laville

Café Laville is an Italian café bridging the canal at picturesque Little Venice. Pop in for a continental breakfast (there’s everything from yogurt with honey and almonds to omelette with goats cheese and spinach), a freshly made sandwich or salad at lunch or a tasty dinner of pasta, risotto or grilled fish/meat.

http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/05/10-canalside-cafes-in-london/

London culture

Fancy a Cuppa? London’s Top 10 Tea Attractions

Fortum and Mason tea

(Visit London Blog, 2 Jul 2013)

Tea is a British institution – and obsession. For Londoners, a cup of ‘Rosie lea’ (as the cockney rhyming slang goes) is a social occasion, an icebreaker and a cure for everything. Explore the history, current trends and endless varieties of tea at these tea-lightful London attractions.

Mad For Tea exhibition at Fortnum & Mason
Until 28 July, fancy London department store Fortum & Mason is hosting Mad For Tea, a free exhibition all about the cuppa. You can admire fine silver, teapots and tea cosies from the past, discover new styles from contemporary designers and learn about the importance of tea in Britain. Want to get more hands on? Book a place on one of Fortnum & Mason’s upcoming tea workshops or talks, including Tea Tasting: An Introduction on 27 June, Afternoon Tea Q&A on 11 July and the Tea Lecture on 25 July. Don’t forget to buy some of the store’s famous own brand tea on your way out.

Twinings Strand Shop & Museum
Twinings Strand Shop & Museum has a long and fascinating history. Bought in 1706 by Thomas Twining, the shop was originally one of London’s many coffee houses – but came to be known for its unique sideline in tea. As tea became more and more fashionable, business boomed – attracting the likes of Jane Austen and Charles II. Today the store boasts a Sampling Counter, Loose Tea Bar and a fascinating miniature museum – featuring old teapots and caddies, vintage advertising and packaging, and old Twining family photos.

The Way of Tea at the British Museum
Still quick-dunking your teabag in a cup of boiling water? Learn how it’s done properly at The Way of Tea, a free demonstration of the Japanese tea ceremony at the British Museum’s Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries on 12 July and 26 July. As well as the demonstration, given by members of the Urasenke London Branch, there’ll be a short history of “tea drinking and gathering” in Japan.

Stock up at Tea Palace
Through its stores in Covent Garden and Chelsea, tea emporium Tea Palace does a roaring trade – selling a selection of more than 120 fairtrade teas and infusions, including flowering teas, herbal Tea Tonics and organic teas. You’ll also find tea-related gifts and accessories, from quirky teapots to swing infusers.

Tea Masterclasses at The Chesterfield Mayfair
How did tea first come to Britain? Are tea bags or loose leaves better? Why are teas different colours? These and more fundamental tea questions are answered by tea experts Jane Pettigrew and Tim Clifton in their comprehensive Tea Masterclasses at The Chesterfield Mayfair. As well as tasting teas and learning how to properly brew, the day course includes lunch and afternoon tea provided by the 4-star hotel.

A proper cuppa at Yumchaa cafés
You won’t find any tea bags on offer at Yumchaa, which firmly believes in the superiority of loose leaves. The typical teabag, they say, “contains mostly tea dust and broken leaf particles”. Oh dear. Thankfully Yumchaa is on hand to offer quality, blended teas – from Soho Spice to Chelsea Chai – brewed in the traditional way. You’ll find Yumcaa café/shops in Camden Lock, Soho, Camden Parkway and Tottenham Street.

Afternoon tea at The Goring
There are many places to enjoy afternoon tea in London, but The Goring has topped them all by winning The Tea Guild’s Top London Afternoon Tea Award 2013. The five-star hotel has been serving afternoon tea since it opened in 1910 and currently offers three afternoon tea options: The Coronation Afternoon Tea to celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation, Traditional Afternoon Tea and Bollinger Afternoon Tea. Enjoy yours on the sunny terrace overlooking The Goring’s private gardens or inside the cosy lounge.

Tea artefacts at the Museum of London
Keep an eye out at the Museum of London and you’re sure to spot fascinating relics from London’s tea trading and drinking past. Just a few items on display include a cup and saucer featuring suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst’s ‘angel of freedom’ logo, a 19th Century doll’s house tea service and a ‘chop book’ used to document tea dealings between London dock officials and Chinese sailors.

Seasonal Tea Library at Brown’s Hotel
Brown’s Hotel offers a delicious afternoon tea in its dedicated English Tea Room, but not many people know it also has a Seasonal Tea Library. Curated by tea traders Lalani & Company, the library consists of a carefully selected collection of teas, sourced from top family-owned tea gardens around the world. Pop in to sample varieties from the Summer 2013 Library collection, such as Himalayan 2nd Flush Grand reserve (Darjeeling 2011) and Jade Mountain Roasted Oolong (Taiwan 2012).

Bubble tea at Bubbleology
The latest trend in tea right now in London is bubble tea. A Taiwanese creation, bubble tea is fruit or milk tea served ice cold or hot with tapioca balls, which can be sucked up through a large straw. Bubbleology’s five stores (in Soho, Knightsbridge, Notting Hill, Westfield Stratford and South Kensington) offer seven milk tea and six fruit tea varieties, including Ginger Red Tea, Mocha Pearl Tea and Mango Green tea.

Misc

Cafe culture costs too much to bear

birmingham_post_comment

(Birmingham Post, 28 May 2004) Birmingham may have lost out on the title of European Capital of Culture but trying to make up for this by imposing the al fresco chic of Paris on Broad Street is not only unrealistic but also untrue to the lively, exciting nightlife that is already on offer.

Brindleyplace, The Arcadian and The Mailbox at present cater for the more affluent business sector of the community. If we are to make Broad Street a basic extension of these spots then surely we can expect the same sense of exclusivity and the same high prices?

This suggestion totally ignores the majority of night-time revellers who do not go out to cause trouble, as many seem to assume, but instead to have a fun evening out and not break the bank while doing so.

I understand and sympathise with the arguments made about Broad Street’s rowdy, drunken and troublesome image. However, I do not see how something that has become so ingrained in our society’s culture, namely drinking, can be legislated out of existence.

Problems of excessive drinking, criminal activity and anti-social behaviour are to be found in every city all over the country. It just so happens that with the majority of Birmingham’s central bars, pubs and clubs clustered on one street, any trouble is bound to be more concentrated.

Banning drinks promotions or seating people at elegant cafe tables is not the answer. Binge drinking and any of its side effects will continue, just at greater expense to the already debt-stricken students and less well-off sections of society.

Broad Street’s current difficulties will not be solved but instead simply moved and exacerbated somewhere else. What will be the high-handed consensus when this happens? That there is to be a total ban on drinking and that continental cappuccinos are the future?

It seems that the group behind the ‘cafe culture’ proposals is trying to butter up business visitors to the city while making sweeping generalisations about other less affluent members of the Birmingham community and ignoring their needs and wishes.

Not everyone likes, or can afford, to spend a night at the theatre or an expensive restaurant. Many people, including some of the so-called ‘suits’, prefer a night dancing in a club, unwinding with a few drinks, or meeting new people in a busy, sociable environment.

Birmingham is a hugely popular city and the diverse entertainments on offer is what attracts the range of people who choose to party here – whether that be the groups of friends who visit to celebrate a stag or hen night, the students from Birmingham’s three universities inevitably looking for a cheap night out, or the majority of Birmingham’s working residents looking to let down their hair at the weekend.

A night out on Broad Street, for most people I know, is spoiled right at the end by having to wait for hours for a taxi or by the few individuals who cannot handle their drink or who are looking for trouble. Zero tolerance on such people, as has been suggested, sounds more like the way to go forward.

Why should everyone be punished for the thoughtless actions of a few troublemakers? Improvement, not complete redevelopment, is the answer. We should clean up, not be cleaned out.

http://icbirmingham.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0100localnews/archive/tm_objectid=14282878&method=full&siteid=50002&headline=cafe-culture-costs-too-much-to-bear-name_page.html