Video: Barbican Conservatory

Nicola Sheppey

Watch our video about the Barbican Conservatory – the tropical oasis in the City, home to over 2000 species of tropical plants and trees (as well as some exotic fish).

Open on Sundays and select Saturdays, you can even have afternoon tea there – click here to learn more.

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A day (and night) of food and drink in Spitalfields

Nicola Sheppey

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to food and drink in Old Spitalfields Market – alongside the bustling clothes stalls you’ll find unique independents, your favourite chains, and everything in between. Below, we’ve rounded up four of our favourites to take you on a delicious day through the market – bring a friend (or a date) to really impress.

For a morning sweet treat, head to: Butter Believe It

You’ll spot the highly Instagrammable shopfront from a mile off, but don’t just walk past this sweet eatery. Inside, you’ll find a little cafe serving up some of the best cakes and cookies in east London. Be sure to try the trademark cake mush (pictured) – think cake mushed together into a cup, which you scoop out with a spoon, AKA autumnal ‘ice cream’. Make it even more seasonal by ordering a cup (or slice) of the pumpkin cake with cream cheese filling and white chocolate chunks – an ideal sweet treat to accompany your morning coffee.

Instagram

For lunch, head to: Lahpet Street Food Kitchen

If you’re not already well acquainted with Burmese cuisine, you’re missing out – and the chefs at Lahpet are happy to introduce you. This bite-sized spin-off of the beloved Shoreditch restaurant brings some of Lahpet’s classics to the masses, serving up convenient, takeaway style dishes. This includes their titular dish, the tea leaf salad (in Burmese, ‘lahpet’ means fermented or pickled tea), as well as coconut chicken with noodles, which is bound to be a favourite with anyone who enjoys Southeast Asian cuisine. BRB – booking a flight to Myanmar as we speak.

Website | Instagram

For dinner, head to: Wright Brothers

Wright Brothers are dedicated to sourcing and preparing top-quality oysters and seafood – it’s no wonder it’s one of London’s most acclaimed seafood restaurants. Come between 3-6pm for £1 oysters – probably the best value you’ll find in London, in line with the original brothers(in law)’s vision to make oysters accessible and delicious to anyone – then hang about for an exquisite meal.

Wright Brothers only use daily fresh fish and seafood alongside local produce, so expect seasonal specials and an ever rotating menu of local specialities (come in summer for the best local lobster). With a carefully paired selection of wines and other drinks alongside the food, you’ll be booking your next dinner before you’ve even left the table.

Website | Instagram

For post-dinner cocktails, head to: Spitalfields Bar

Here’s where things get romantic – head to Hawksmoor’s underground, low-lit bar with a great ambience. The cocktails are the star here, and the bartenders are more than ready to serve you the very best of Hawksmoor’s established and refined cocktail menu. Even better – very soon they’ll be launching a brand new cocktail menu, and you can get it first at Spitalfields Bar. Still hungry? Tuck into their delectable bar food (that have featured on some prominent ‘best of’ lists in London).

Website | Instagram

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Video: Illuminated River

Nicola Sheppey

Watch our timelapse capture of Illuminated River – the 10-year art project lighting up 15 bridges along the Thames.

Created by artist Leo Villareal, the artwork is comprised of over 69,000 light installations and is said to be the longest-running art project in the world. Click here to learn more about it.

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One City Stories: Annabel Lui, Co-Founder of Cutter & Squidge

Nicola Sheppey

Wander down Threadneedle St and you’re bound to stop at Cutter & Squidge – the quirky bakery with cakes, cookies, macarons and trademark ‘biskies’ in a rainbow of colours to grab your attention. From humble food market beginnings to iconic Soho store to City cafe, watch this space – Cutter & Squidge is set to take over the capital. We sat down with Annabel Lui, co-founder of the brand (created with her sister, Emily) to hear all about the journey so far.

Tell us the origin of Cutter & Squidge.

Annabel: I’m from a food background – I grew up in restaurants. I wanted to be a pastry chef when I was younger, but when I told my dad (who’s a trained chef himself) he said: ‘no! You’ve got to go to university.’ I actually started off in the City working in corporate finance, but decided when I was about 25 that I wanted to do something different. I used to spend all my money on food and dessert-making items like spray guns, things like that, and was always making cakes for my friends and family.

That’s kind of how it all started. I was looking at the sweet industry and noticed that people were all doing the same thing; it all tasted quite artificial – not the kind of thing we’d make at home. I convinced my sister to team up and create something tasty, so we made the ‘biskie’, a unique product that tasted real, using actual ingredients (like actual blueberries and lemons; no artificial flavouring). We wanted to make a product that we both really loved. In terms of texture, I love cookies, my sister loves cakes, so we combined them.

That’s how Cutter & Squidge started – we named it after ourselves, I would cut the biskie and she would squidge it together! I’m cutter, she’s squidge.

We started in food markets, which is a great way to start a small business and test whether people like your product. We began at the Up Market at One New Change and that’s how we got going and how people got to know us.

Cut, squidged and ready to eat – a selection of biskies.

What are the challenges you faced initially?

Trying to get your name out and get people to know who you are was difficult. It initially was quite easy as we had companies like Selfridges and Harrods approach us, but after that, knowing how to take the next step is difficult. Figuring out how to grow – that was a challenge.

With one store in Soho and a relatively new second store in the City, what are the differences you see in the two areas?

The areas are completely different. Soho does have its working crowd but it’s mostly tourists and people from overseas, people who don’t necessarily live or work in London, so there’s quite a variety of different people who come in. In the City, there’s a big community spirit and a routine. The same faces come in, you get to know your customers and know what they like or don’t like very quickly. Once they try your products they stick with you and keep coming back. It’s really nice to have that kind of customer base.

Flex your sweet tooth – the Raspberry Ripple cake.

Tell us your daily routine.

There really is no typical day! Every day looks completely different. Usually the day starts at around 5:30 to 6 in the morning. I go through emails, messages, see if anything is really pressing and urgent that the team needs to get going with as soon as they get to work, then I catch up with my Head of Operations. At the beginning of the week I’ll head to one of the stores or the head office so that I can spend equal amounts of time with everyone in my team, from the bakery managers to the store managers. 

During the afternoons I might meet with marketing, product development, finance, our property finder to find our next store, or others. We’ve also just finished writing our first cookbook which has taken up a lot of my time! And we’re beginning filming for our YouTube channel. There are a lot of things happening and I have a lot of hats on – one day it might be fixing something, the next it’ll be working out a strategy on how we can get our recipes out to the nation.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

I normally listen to Motown classics like Marvin Gaye or Al Green – they’re great to sing along to. I can’t listen to anything too beat-y when I‘m working, it’s got to be mellow so I can think and get the juices flowing. Nothing too distracting, otherwise I’m not going to do any work!

The original ‘Cutter’ and ‘Squidge’: founders and sisters Emily and Annabel Lui.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a food business?

Get a good mentor who can give you advice. Go to events and make contacts with people in the industry – get yourself out there. For food brands the markets are a great way to start. Speak to other traders just to get a feel for what they’ve done, and what you can do. Don’t be shy – everyone’s there to help each other in that space. I know a lot of people who we used to trade alongside who have moved on as well, and we all keep in touch and know each other – it’s a little community, which is really nice. Don’t be afraid to speak to people, even if they’re in the same kind of space as you – it’s good to talk to everyone. And you might find yourself a mentor!

Find Cutter & Squidge at 23 the Royal Exchange, Threadneedle St. Click here to visit the website or find them on Instagram at @cutterandsquidge.

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What’s New in the City: Summer 2019

Nicola Sheppey

Summer may be well and truly over, but don’t worry – while you were away sipping on cocktails on a European island (we hope), some fantastic new businesses opened up shop in the City. Below, once again, see some of our recommendations of what to check out.

If you’re after: a beer (or three, or four)Bierschenke Bierkeller

German beer hall Bierschenke has opened its second branch in the form of a basement bar – just in time for Oktoberfest. With Bavarian beer halls being synonymous with tasty beer, fun outfits and a great deal of camaraderie (plus dancing on tables), your City social life just might get a little more lively after hours. 

The Bierkeller, a stone’s throw from Tower Hill station, specialises in importing authentic beers and delicacies straight from Germany, so you can be guaranteed a genuine experience with their Bavarian cuisine. But don’t stick to the sausages – vegetarians and vegans are well catered to (even carnivores can’t deny how tasty the vegan schnitzel is). 

And get ready – the venue’s about to gear up for Oktoberfest. From Weds – Sat, 18 Sep – 2 Nov across both Bierschenke’s sites (Tower Hill & London Wall), enjoy big Steins of the venue’s exclusive German beers, platters of authentic Wurst, live oompah bands playing a mix of German classics and modern anthems, and much, much more. Prost!

Find it: 9 Crutched Friars

Learn more: https://tower-hill-bierkeller.bierschenke.co.uk/ | @bierschenke | click here for Oktoberfest group bookings

If you’re after: the best sandwich in LondonSub Cult

Get here early to beat the queues, because Sub Cult is (rightfully) in high demand – submarine rolls fit to burst with fresh, gourmet ingredients in winning combinations. Sub Cult was born from a love of the great American sandwich, and how we Brits are starved for it over the pond – merged with the founders’ love of subcultures, the cult favourite sandwich brand has opened up its first sleek, stylish shop on Watling St, serving up superior sub rolls to the masses.

The food is the star here; we can’t pick just one sub to recommend, but you can rest assured all tastes are well catered for, from the truly original ‘Submarine’ (pulled pork, crackling and seafood? Trust us – it works) to the award-winning ‘Subterranean’ (blue cheese, truffle mayo, garlic herby mushrooms and more) to the meatball packed ‘Subfather’ … we could go on. Make it your new lunch spot – the reviews speak for themselves.

Psst – read our interview with founders Ben and Gaz here.

Find it: 82 Watling St

Learn more: http://subcult.com/ | @subcultsubs

If you’re after: some new sights on your commuteSculpture in the City 2019

Wondering what that strange and fascinating new sculpture outside your office is? It just might be part of 2019’s Sculpture in the City – a series of public artworks spanning the Square Mile from internationally acclaimed and emerging artists.

This year, thanks to our ever-changing City, the artworks are more diverse than ever. Highlights include: Jennifer Steinkamp’s Botanic playing on a loop on the enormous LED ceiling screen in the foyer of 120 Fenchurch St, creating a dazzling 3D flower show that’ll make you want to lie down to appreciate properly; Nathan Coley’s The Same for Everyone, with illuminated letters that glow against the glassy buildings of Cunnard Place and create an atmospheric, thought-provoking art piece; and over at Bury Court, Reza Aramesh’s extraordinary marble statue The Site of the Fall … (pictured) explores issues of war’s impact on the individual and masculinity. All this and much, much more as part of #SITC’s 9th annual edition.

Find it: all over the City

Learn more: https://www.sculptureinthecity.org.uk/ | @sculptureinthecity

If you’re after: a hot new takeaway lunchWaka

Great news for the City – once again, another brilliant London eatery wants a slice of the action here in the Square Mile. Waka, a favourite Japanese-Peruvian spot of White City, is about to open a takeaway joint in Houndsditch, bringing its classic ‘Nikkei’ fusion cuisine to your lunch break. What’s Nikkei, you ask? When Japanese migrants settled in Peru, Nikkei food was born (the term literally means Japanese folk who live outside Japan) – merging traditional Peruvian cuisine with Japanese ingredients.

Waka prides itself on ‘Japanese minimalism and harmony mixed with the fire and playfulness of Peru’ with a mix of hot and cold dishes available to take away, including Sake & Miso Salmon Anticucho, Vegan Bento, and Chicken Katsu Salad. It opens next week, so try it, fall in love, and report back – we want to hear your favourites.

Find it: 120 Houndsditch

Learn more: https://www.waka-uk.com/ | @wakalondon

Got any other new openings in the City you’d like to recommend? Drop us an email at info@onecity.london. For more updates on what’s happening in the City and exclusive discounts at some of our favourite brands, sign up for our newsletter by clicking here.