The Rooftop Cafe, London Bridge

Rooftop Cafe

It’s not easy to find the Rooftop Café but once you have navigated your way up there you will feel pretty smug about locating London’s best hidden breakfast venue. And with the Shard as a neighbour, the views from this eatery are epic.

It is an unlikely spot… buzz at the entrance, follow the fire exit and climb three flights of stairs. A tiny doorway reveals a quaint café where you might expect to find a dilapidated office area. The café is open for all-day dining, though I think it is particularly lovely in the mornings. For balmy summer nights there is a terrace with coloured benches where you can enjoy the view al fresco.

Wake up with a strong coffee, a fresh juice and one of the delectable treats from the menu. Popular dishes include Truffled field mushrooms with poached egg and toast – earthy and delicious. Or the rather more indulgent Bacon, French toast and maple syrup. I opted for Avocado, chilli and lime with sourdough toast. The plates are simply presented, with generous portions for reasonable prices. I loved my avocado on toast which was fresh and zingy with the citrusy juice and kick from the chilli. Although I must admit the aromas from the truffled field mushrooms did convince me to try that option next time.

Quietly successful and individual, this lovely little café has managed to escape the attention of the serial brunchers in London. Get there fast while it’s still a secret.

More information here:


David Almond and Franz Ackermann, White Cube Bermondsey

When in London I like to spend Saturdays discovering new brunch menus and visiting art exhibitions. Bermondsey is an ideal area for weekend strolling, there are numerous cafés offering every cuisine and the prominent White Cube Gallery always offers something thought-provoking. With free entrance it is easy to drift in and wander through the tall clinically white interior.

Currently White Cube Bermondsey is exhibiting two very contrasting collections, both exhilarating in their own way. Darren Almond is an adventurous artist whose diverse work incorporates film, installation, sculpture and photography. In this instance he has produced an evocative series called ‘To Leave a Light Impression’, showcasing his mesmerizingly serene ‘Fullmoon’ series of photographs, depicting every continent in the light of the full moon, taken over a period of 13 years. The picture of Patagonia is particularly memorable, though each shot has its own eerily beautiful quality.

Franz Ackermann’s brightly coloured wall murals are completely different visually but just as impressive. The explosive spontaneity of the pieces is a joy to experience. The pictures are like complicated mind maps, vibrant layers of diverse materials. When you first encounter them the canvases look like a confused mess of neon hues. Walk closer, and a whole network of ideas becomes visible, to be interpreted differently by each viewer.

At the end of the art appreciation, pop into the shop to peruse the books. Next time you are wandering down Bermondsey Street in search of food, take ten minutes out to discover the imaginative world that the White Cube offers.

Continues until 13 April, more information here.

Candide, Menier Chocolate Factory

Candide is currently taking the London theatre world by storm. As many shows wind down in January after the Christmas rush, this upbeat operetta is gathering momentum, so much so that they’ve just extended the run by another week.

Bernstein’s joyous musical comedy is filled with warm and comforting sentiment, the perfect antidote to those winter blues. I performed in this show at university and coincidentally the cast then also included the Menier’s Candide star, Fra Fee.

Crammed into the boutique theatre in London Bridge, there is a sense of camaraderie in the room as we invest in the story of Candide and his continued hardships.

The cast is superb with principals Fra Fee as Candide and Scarlett Strallen as Cunégonde giving particularly impressive vocal performances. But really the whole cast excels and it is the wonderful teamwork that brings this classic to life. If you see one show this winter, make sure it is Candide.

Continues until 1 March 2013, book here.