Your guide to Eating In Cafes and Bars in London
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Henry's Cafe Bar - Piccadilly
The Piccadilly branch (there are two more in London at Liverpool Street and Covent Garden as well as others around the UK) is right on the edge of Mayfair. Opposite Green Park and Buckingham Palace and close to The Ritz, it couldnít be handier for a stop-off after a hard morningís shopping in Piccadilly or Bond Street or whizzing round the latest exhibition at the Royal Academy. Itís a big room on two levels, with a long bar. The decor is smart and welcoming for a drink and a meal. During the week Henryís opens at 8am (Saturday and Sunday from 10am) so you could start with a good breakfast and then do your shopping or sightseeing. As well as the main menu thereís also a brunch menu, a sharers menu and a comprehensive cocktail and wine list. And between courses or drinks you can have access to free Wi-fi.
Henryís is eminently more civilised, the sort of place where you can take the whole family and big enough to accommodate party bookings large or small. No doubt earnest breakfast meetings, power lunches and serious dinners are the main part of Henryís business, but tempered with visitors and tourists seeking inner refreshment. The all-day brasserie has become a boon to everybody and Henryís seems to be high up on the list of recommendable places to go at any time of the day or night for a satisfying meal or just a drink.
Starting with breakfast thereís a full monty in the all-day breakfast or the traditional English brunch (bacon, sausages, eggs, tomato, mushrooms, hash browns and toast) or a vegetarian brunch with vegetarian sausages, plus eggs several ways, pastries, muffins and tea cakes. For lunch thereís a classic Ploughman's of ham, pork pie, vintage Cheddar and creamy Stilton with pickles and chutney and ciabatta bread, or classic and deli sandwiches and wraps, burgers, pasta dishes and salads. If youíre not too hungry, there are sharing plates (with potato wedges, nachos, antipasti, fish and chips and Greek mezze options) or a Classic platter of assorted bites and dips.
Main courses include steak and fries, sausages and mash, chicken with mustard and tarragon, shoulder of lamb, chicken or beef curry and Scottish salmon. Henryís Fish Pie is one of the best, packed with prawns and hearty pieces of cod and smoked haddock cooked in a creamy white sauce with mashed potato piped on top. It comes with a separate dish of fresh seasonal vegetables. Beef and mushroom baked suet pudding may not be to everybodyís taste, but then itís not every day you find suet pudding on a menu. Not for the faint-hearted, this has chunks of juicy beef with mushrooms cooked in a rich gravy, all packed into in a light suet pudding.
For dessert, the Chocolate Puddle Pudding is a chocolate sponge with a rich chocolate sauce and whipped cream, a luscious pudding if ever there was one - unless of course youíre having the chocolate fondue with a warm chocolate fudge sauce into which you dip pieces of strawberry and banana, slices of fudge brownie and sweet waffles. Itís like dying and going to chocolate heaven!
The list of cocktails includes long drinks such as Mai Tai, Raspberry
Fizz, a Key West Cooler, Long Island Iced Tea, or mojitos, Martinis, short
cocktails such as a White Russian, Bellinis, Kir Royale or the classic
The ICA Bar and Cafe - Piccadilly
Itís not just ICA visitors who youíll see here. The ICA Bar and Cafe is trendy and central enough to act as a destination venue, and consequently youíre likely to see a host of creative and fashion types who clearly arenít idle gallery visitors. The strength of the stylish atmosphere means that itís conceivable that this place could be a fashionable hangout, transporting a little bit of East End cool to Central London. It can even get pretty funky in the evening so if youíre in there late make sure youíve got your dancing shoes at the ready.
Proof of the ICA Bar and Cafeís foray into
being somewhere to visit, as opposed to an extension of the Institute
itself, can be found in its superb range of drinks. All the usual beer
suspects are accounted for, and are kept very well on tap with some more
exotic bottled options in the chiller. The cocktail list is sound, with a
particularly delicious Mojito Royale - the addition of a little bit of
good quality bubbly making a well made concoction even more desirable.
Whatís more, you might even see the confusing sight of one of the scruffy
arty types ordering a bottle of Taittinger - who says you have to suffer
for your art? An immaculate venue that complements the Institute well, the
ICA Bar and Cafe could quite easily stand alone as a bastion of quality in
even the trendiest parts of London.