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Great London Cafes – Cinq Café in Hay’s Galleria

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Location : 16 – 17 Hay’s Galleria, London, SE1 2HD

One of the tests of a great café is that the food and drinks maintain a high standard over a period of time and are reasonably priced. This is why if we find ourselves near London Bridge we tend to wander up to the  Hay’s Galleria and into the Cinq café . Although it specialises in sandwiches and patisseries, there is a wide range of food and drink to enjoy.

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Cinq offers quality steak and chicken Sandwiches, Ciabatta, Croque Monsieur.  A delicious variety of Patisserie, Fresh Salads and Hot Food dishes, all are freshly prepared daily using traditional methods. The raw ingredients are purchased daily from local markets to ensure freshness and consistency of quality. Each new product is sealed with a “Just Made” label and the  coffee is specially roasted and blended in Italy.

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There is plenty of seating to enjoy both inside and outside, although the outside is in the Hay’s Galleria itself, so you are protected from the elements.

The cafe’ is popular with locals and visitors who tend to enjoy the food whilst being fascinated  by the nearby red telephone boxes.

Café’s like Cinq tend to get overlooked but good food and friendly service  in pleasant surroundings are often the best recipe when taking a rest break from work or sightseeing.

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Great London Cafe’s – Foxcroft and Ginger

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3 Berwick Street, Soho, London W1F 0DR

In the narrow streets of Soho, there are no shortages of Coffee shops and Cafe’s, therefore it is all the more surprising that Foxtrot and Ginger in Berwick Street has made its reputation in a relatively short time.
The couple behind the cafe had spent many years working in restaurants before they opened here in 2010.

In hectic and touristy Soho, Foxcroft and Ginger stands out as a place to sit back and relax. There is a a larger space in the basement below the main café.
Foxcroft & Ginger is founded upon the principles of good wholesome homemade food, made with locally-sourced ingredients and where possible made in house.

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Breads, cakes and pastries are made in the kitchen downstairs, sourdough pizza’s are a speciality and the Coffee and Tea are made from high quality ingredients.

Good quality homemade food, good coffee and a friendly environment have proven successful for Foxcroft and Ginger who now have a second café in Whitechapel.

Opening Hours

Monday: 8am – 7pm

Tuesday-Friday: 8am – 10pm

Saturday: 9am – 10pm

Sunday: 9am – 7pm

Great London Cafes – Bar Italia

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22 Frith St, London W1D 4RF

If you are looking for an authentic Italain Cafe in London, Bar Italia in Soho is the place to head for, it was opened in 1949 by Lou and Caterina Polledri.
In post war Britain it became a important social centre for Italian Community and was one of the rare places you could find a good quality coffee in London.
Bar Italia quickly became an institution in Soho and has been visited by many celebrities over the years.
Still owned by the Polidari family, it is still a little part of Italy with Italian Football shown on the big screen at the back of the cafe and football shirts and pictures of sporting heroes dotted all over the walls.

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The red and white formica is an integral part of the Bar and there are still original pieces from 1949. The Gaggia coffee machine has been there fifty years.
It still produces great coffee and the seats outside are very popular for watching the world go by. Almost directly opposite is the legendary Jazz venue Ronnie Scott’s.
Bar Italia has the appearance of a classic Italian cafe and offers a reminder of little piece of London history when Italian cafes introduced a post war coffee culture.
Bar Italia is not the only claim to fame for this building, in 1926, John Logie Baird gave the first public demonstration of television here.
The blue plaque above the front door commemorates this event.
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Butler’s Wharf – Restaurants, Shops and Cafe’s

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Butler’s Wharf

Location – 36E Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE

Butler’s Wharf is a complex of apartments, café, restaurants and shops on the south bank of the Thames near Tower Bridge. Originally built as a series of warehouses and wharves in the late 19th century, during the 20th century they fell into disuse until the site was transformed into luxury apartments with a series of restaurants on the riverfront.

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Terence Conran owns some of the restaurants and was responsible for the building of the Design Museum which is part of the complex.

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Behind the riverfront apartment is Shad Thames, a street with a longer history than Butler’s Wharf being  named on the John Rocque’s 1747 map of London. It still maintains a historical atmosphere with its cobbled streets and high level walkways that cross over the street. Not surprisingly the area is popular with filmmakers and featured in the Elephant Man, the French Lieutenant’s Woman, Highlander and Bridget Jones Diary.

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If Shad Thames looks like it is straight out of a Dickens novel if you walk to the end of the street to St Saviours Dock , just over the bridge you will find the site of Jacobs Island, the notorious hideout of the evil Bill Sikes.

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This is an area generally missed by visitors which means the restaurants, bars and café cater for the local population. If you visiting Tower Bridge or walking up the south side this is an ideal spot to sit on the riverfront for a good quality meal or drink and watch the world go by.

Restaurants include Le Pont de la Tour, the Butler’s Wharf Chop House, Cantina del Ponte, Bengal Clipper, Captain Tony’s Pizza & Pasta Emporium. The Design Museum also houses the Blue Print Café.

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London Cafes – Caffe Paradiso , Shad Thames

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Caffé Paradiso

Location – 45 Shad Thames, London SE1 2NJ

Although Caffé Paradiso is a relative newcomer opening in 2006, its has connections to a Sicilian couple who came to London in the 1930s. Rita and Enrico Olivelli opened their Bloomsbury restaurant in the 1930s which soon became a favourite of students from the nearby drama school RADA. Olivelli became famous for its Sicilian cuisine and when the restaurant was sold in 1993, two Sicilian – born brothers Giovanni and Salvatore Salamone bought it determined to continue the Sicilian tradition. Other restaurants followed in Mayfair and Waterloo and two cafes called Caffé Paradiso, one in Bloomsbury and this one at Tower Bridge.

What sets this Café apart from the numerous chains around it is the delicious handmade savouries and patisserie made to authentic Sicilian recipes. The gelato is made by Sicilian chefs in London.

Friendly staff, good coffee and even a breakfast menu make this one of the most popular cafes this side of Tower Bridge. The only problem you are likely to find is getting a seat in the small intimate surroundings.

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For practical advice and special offers for your London visit go to visitinglondonguide.com