Bakeries, cafes, karaoke and gardens – we’re spoilt for choice for new openings in the City this spring. Below we’ve rounded up our top 5, so beat the crowds and put these on your to-do list.
If you’re after: sweet treats – Cutter & Squidge
We dare you to walk past the shopfront of Cutter & Squidge without pressing your face up against the glass. But don’t just freak out the staff – head inside, take your pick from an endless selection of goods and leave with a guaranteed smile on your face. The iconic Soho bakery has opened up shop in the Royal Exchange and the cakes, tray bakes, and trademark ‘biskies’ (think cake/cookie hybrid sandwiches) have taken sweet treats in the City to a whole new level.
Cutter & Squidge put creative combinations at the forefront of their products, with combos like banana peanut caramel, popcorn with cherry and chocolate, and salted caramel marshmallow, to name a few. Come in for anything from a single biskie or mini selection box to a whopping multi-tier luxury cake or hamper and feel rest assured that you’re about to become the office favourite. The ethos behind their goods is that nothing is gratuitous – the products only have exactly as much fat and sugar as needed to make them delicious, firmly excluding any excess. Plus, the cafe area is perfect to curl up in for an afternoon.
Find it: The Royal Exchange (access via Threadneedle St)
If you’re after: a relaxing spot to sit – The Garden at 120
Free to access, no need to book, and you can even bring your own food up – the new Garden at 120 is a rooftop garden like no other. Keen to combine the free access of a public garden with the luxury views of a sky-high rooftop, Eric Parry Architects‘ design brings nature and architecture together to create a shimmering oasis under the City sunshine.
Here is not a place to look down on a toy-town London, but to sit comfortably among the mid-level section of the skyscrapers, apart from the chaos of the streets but still nestled in the heart of the City. Add a gently trickling stream, a bower of wisteria and London’s iconic horizon, and it hardly gets any better. At least, not until later this year, when the new D&D restaurant opens just one floor down.
Find it: 120 Fenchurch Street
Learn more: https://www.thegardenat120.com/
If you’re after: a great night out – Lucky Voice Holborn
Karaoke: you either love it or you hate it, or at least you think you hate it until you’re two tequilas down, a microphone has been guided in your hand, and you hazily realise that for your whole life you were just a missed opportunity away from being Britain’s answer to Ariana Grande. But even if you’re still not a fan, you’d be hard pressed not to feel genuinely delighted with Lucky Voice Karaoke’s latest branch in Holborn.
The colourful and well decorated bar/lounge area makes for a musically-inspired drinks spot in its own right; our personal favourite features are the coloured transparent boxes in the middle of the room with song title riddles inside for you to solve (a barbie doll? Whatever song could that be?). But karaoke is the star, with a variety of sized rooms fitting anything from 6 to 30 singers inside each one. Queue up a playlist of all-time classic belters alongside current chart bops, with easy-to-find categories including every song genre you can shake a stick at, plus some useful shortcuts like ‘duets’, ‘musicals’ and ‘Disney’. And the party doesn’t stop when nature calls – step into the ladies’ loos for disco decor like no other (we’ll say no more).
Find it: 84 Chancery Lane
If you’re after: delicious dinner – Emilia’s Pasta Aldgate
The St Katharine Docks favourite, known for its refined and authentic take on simple Italian pasta dishes, has come to the fringe of the City. Emilia’s Crafted Pasta was born out of its founder’s genuine desire to make and serve pasta exactly the way the Italians do, which can be a little different to our softer, slightly distorted English offerings (something anyone who’s gorged on an authentic Roman dish will know). The restaurant seems prepared for a little British tradition getting in the way – up on the wall of their new, airy venue in Aldgate are a set of strict rules denoting exactly how they’ll serve their pasta (‘parmesan will not be used in or on a carbonara’, and so on), so no pesky requests get in the way. And trust them on that – for what is served up is genuinely delicious.
The menu is small and focused on the classics – we tasted and can highly recommend the slow-cooked béchamel bolognese (pictured), or the smoked salmon carbonara with pecorino and beaten eggs. What might be considered safe choices in chain restaurants become stand-out offerings at Emilia’s – it’s a struggle to leave anything on your plate at all. With a selection of similarly simple and truly delicious sides and desserts to accompany it, Emilia’s is a taste of Italy on our home shores, without skyrocketing costs. Brexit, be gone – we’re not ready to abandon this European cuisine just yet.
Find it: 77 Alie Street
If you’re after: a healthy breakfast or lunch – The Good Yard Shoreditch
With its quirky decor, friendly staff and cheeky marketing, it seems like Shoreditch is the natural home for The Good Yard, but their Leonard Street branch is the baby of the bunch compared to the longer-running Liverpool Street and Leadenhall Market cafes. The Good Yard pride themselves on “dirty health food”, and if that’s a synonym for moreish and indulgent without the guilt, we’re very much on board.
Serving breakfast and lunch boxes, bowls and wraps in a relaxed, takeaway style joint (complete with trendy art, of course), The Good Yard has found their niche and they do it well. We could describe their food as ‘simple with an edge’ – a chicken and halloumi wrap sounds tasty in an accessible, safe way, but it’s the Spanish chorizo and Sriracha mayo that takes this into ‘holy s*@$!’ territory. Similarly, the herby chicken salad has the perfect balance of pesto folded up in its shredded chicken to add a punch, without it being overwhelming. Everything here just tastes GOOD – it’s difficult to imagine being disappointed by anything, especially when the prices and loyalty scheme show your contact card some love as well.
Find it: 94 Leonard Street
Got any other new openings in the City you’d like to recommend? Drop us an email at email@example.com! 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.