Despite failing to claim the esteemed accolade of Europe’s Leading Destination award (that would be YORKSHIRE, thank you very much!), there is definitely something to be said for London in the Summer. As The Blonde keeps telling me, ‘when the sun shines, there is no greater city’ (except maybe, er, York?). He is London-raised so completely biased, but he does have a point.
With temperatures set to remaining around twenty degrees for the next week or so, it’s all about grabbing that Indian Summer by the cojones, firing up the bbq, hitting a beer garden or booking yourself in for an al fresco meal at one of our many fine eateries. My top outdoor dining locations are, in no particular order, a Thameside table at The River Cafe, the terrace at Manicomio or Clos Maggiore's conservatory with retractable awning. And, as of last week, The Rooftop Cafe in London Bridge.
The Rooftop Cafe is the only restaurant at which I’ve eaten and then immediately booked myself in for a meal the following week. It was that good.
The panoramic views are nothing short of sensational - I defy anyone not to get snap-happy when faced with this vista. Even Elephant and Castle looks relatively charming from three floors up with a herbaceous border!
Perched on your casual communal bench-table you can see it all from up here - the London Eye, The Shard, The Gherkin - architectural eye candy abounds.
Aesthetics asides, why else should one eat here? The cocktail list is classic, brief and affordable
Margarita and St Germain Spritz
The menu is centered around clean and classic flavours that complement the relatively uncomplicated serving set up. Australian chef Magnus Reid’s St John pedigree shining through here - high quality and minimalist on the ingredients front. There is also a lightness and freshness that Antipodeans seem to do so well and is entirely in keeping with the organic rooftop setting.
The Daily Norm author, as my date for the evening, was so taken with the menu he suggested we order all the starters. No argument with that course of action.
Butch slices of Coppa di Parma with sun blushed tomatoes and juicy capers
Roast celery with pumpkin seed-crusted goats cheese. A great range of textures here.
Tender prawns with an edamame and glass noodle salad - chilli notes and Vietnamese flavours. A perfect refreshing Summer starter
Crab remoulade with toasted sourdough was pure Fergus Henderson and completely delicious.
Octopus salad showing just how good a dish can be when you keep it relatively unadulterated.
As the sun sets, you just fall more and more in love with this place.
That’s me looking enamoured…
And just when you think things can’t get any better, pudding arrives
Pistachio cake with gooey centre and caramelised edges, doused in creme fraiche
And cherry mess with chocolate meringues and toasted almonds - ridiculous. I might have caught someone referring to this as an ‘eff me in the face’ kind of pud. Yep, true story.
Anyway, let’s end on a more civilised note and get back to those views - London, you’re no Yorkshire, but you’re pretty lovely, aren’t you.
The Rooftop Cafe, The Exchange, 28 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SG
Brunch: Saturday only
Dinner: Thursday-Saturday 6-11pm