PLACES OF INTEREST/RESTAURANT
If you should ever find yourself yourself marooned in the City Centre suffering a belly insistent with hunger, surrounded with only the sad bellow of franchise enterprise, I am able to recommend a welcome respite-Breakfast & Burger, stood modestly in the shadows of such looming landmarks as the Lloyd’s building, the Cheesegrater, the Gherkin and the ever-decorous Leadenhall Market (itself choked now with mostly name-brand restaurants and retail). Speaking on behalf of its breakfast options (I will certainly return for a sampling of the lunch items), surely a less expensive and prodigiously portioned plate will not likely be found anywhere within the square mile. For a lowly £5.99, a diner will receive a fry-up (traditional or veggie, the veggie of which comes accompanied by its own combination of sides) with 2 eggs, 2 hash, sausage, bacon, beans and toast with choice of tea or coffee. A request for any style of egg other than fried will be firmly but politely denied.
The decor is classic caff with an industrially polished modern brush, the clientele a mix of builders, particularly “woke” corporate suits and dazzled (but thankful) tourists who pleasantly stumble upon this Eden amongst the otherwise cold, impersonal, overly familiar options. Gerry’s, a true mainstay greasy-spoon caff located for years on Ludgate Hill, which I would have categorically advised visiting for its up-front, no frills cooking, has (I’ve just discovered) closed, unfortunately, a long-standing, defiant revolutionary against the gentrified march of the area exhaustedly given up the fight, silenced.
Spice up the lunch hour by attending an afternoon play at the venerable Bridewell Theatre, just off Blackfriar’s, which tailors performances to the lengths of the traditional meal break. Hosting small, emerging production companies, the ambitious programme incorporates material ranging across the expanse of the medium, from musicals to dramas to comedies, one-person monologue confessionals to spirited full casts.
The space is remarkably modern, spacious and professionally outfitted. Interesting fact: the venue was built atop the City of London’s first swimming pool, the tiled length of which can still be accessed via a floor hatch.
One of the newest attractions in the City is found in the nether regions of the imposing new Bloomberg European headquarters-the London Mithraeum houses the remains of a Roman temple discovered during the excavation for the new office space, temporarily relocated for the duration of the construction, then returned to its original site upon completion, an astonishingly generous, forward and respectful gesture both culturally and archeologically for a corporate behemoth to make (although Bloomberg has had a storied history with respect to the arts).
For free (there is a booking policy, but it is possible to wander in and charm the attendants, in quieter hours, for entry without appointment), a viewer may descend into the bowels for a walk around the ruins and be treated to a brief sound and light installation-admittedly a bit naff-meant to bring the space alive, absorbed in the life as it was once lived. Upstairs, a large cabinet displays the hundreds of Roman artefacts that were uncovered during the excavation, a true historical treasure trove of objects.
So, an alternative day out in the City, then!