Sunday, 28 March 2010

Corney & Barrow Exchange Square

You can tell a lot about the culture of a place by how its planners choose to treat the humble town square.
In some towns, the square becomes a market stall in the weekend at which you can purchase high quality meat, vegetable, and dairy products. These come complete with cafes at which you can indulge in the local delicacies while washing them down with your beverage of choice. In some Northern European towns they can even include a water feature - admittedly of variable quality.

However, in the dear old City, developers have shown the initiative for which they are famous, and turned a barren stretch of land behind Liverpool Street station into a community square; complete with a water feature, a croquet lawn, and a handful of pubs and bars.
And the best of this admittedly random selection of drinking venues is the local Corney & Barrow - the fine wine and beer chain that is the closest thing that the Square Mile has to 'bar royalty'.

At first glance, Corney & Barrow in Exchange Square seems to sit at odds with the rest of its brethren. For a start, the bar itself is not much bigger than a garden shed, and seems to have been designed by someone whose core competencies are in greenhouses rather then wine bars. Depending on where you are seated, your view can be the departure platforms of Liverpool Street station. Interesting for trainspotters I’m sure, but not so much for your average punter.

Yet I do the Corney & Barrow Exchange Square a disservice, as packed into this glass room with (not much of) a view, is space for up to 50 imbibers, serviced by charming and very efficient bar staff, and a nice little atmosphere. The lack of space gives the place an intimacy which is friendly rather then intrusive. And, of course, in summer the place comes into its own as City folks take advantage of the open plan concrete to quaff rosé and European lagers in the sunshine.

I often think that bars/pubs around train stations are subject to the law of diminishing returns - they deteriorate in quality the closer you get. The Corney & Barrow in Exchange Square is a notable exception to this rule, and as a result has become a regular for my motley crew of bankers. I recommend you try it.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Magpie Pub, Bishopsgate

When I was a child we had a pet magpie. Not the cute curious beagle like birds that you have in the UK but the crow sized flying pitbulls that terrorise children in the South Pacific. Well our friends children anyway.
The Magpie on Bishopsgate is a pub that is more cute then threatening, which judging by its busy Friday night crowd is something that appeals to all comers. Tucked away on a side street, directly opposite Liverpool Statation, the pub's capatilises on the abundance of city commuters in search of the after work pint in 'faux tradtional' surroundings. By which I mean, you have decorative barrels at the entrance, a commerically acceptible range of bitters and ales, and a pub menu which I am sure includes bangers and mash and the likes. You also have wall-to-wall suited men enjoying the Heart FM friendly music and the fact that you can get a suburban pub in middle of the city.
My snide sarcasm aside, this is a nice little boozer. Friendly and more importantly for a pub, fast service, and a pedestrianised outside area that you can spill onto should the suits get a bit much.
Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area, but probably not one for an all-nighter. Which should suit the commuter crowd just fine.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Farewell to the East Room - Friday 12th March 2010

It was with great sadness that I received the email from my friends at this once great bar, that the East Room, along with Sosho Match had fallen victim to the recent fire on Great Tabernacle Street. Many a drunken evening had been spent both on that rooftop and in the bar by yours truly, the Northerner, and Heavy D amongst others, indulging in the fine wines and great ambience that the place had in abundance.
the East Room crew are now dealing with the consquences of the fire, including insurance, staff relocation and the likes, and are hoping to rebuild a bigger, better place. Time can only tell whether they can pull it off, but fingers crossed from this punter.