The Exchange, spitting distance from the Shard
There’s only one VERY annoying point about the somewhat unknown, definitely under-the-radar, eatery I’m about to tell you about. It isn’t its location (although it is tricky to find), it isn’t its prices (a reason I often hesitate to blog about the latest/newest restaurant in London) and it isn’t the chi-chi crowd – because my fellow eaters were totally non-plussed about with whom they were dining. No, the point is that He went there first. And I know He’s going to read the review and want to talk about it. BUT he won’t want to talk about what I ate and why I loved it. No! He’ll want to tell me that He was there first!
The Rooftop Café, hidden on the 2nd floor of The Exchange at London Bridge, is probably more of a lunch place (which is when He went). But then, a few weeks ago, the cafe flung open its roof on Thursday and Friday nights and I suggested Mini’s Godmum and I should eat dinner there immediately. It’s a perfectly brilliant location for her to return to SE London and for me to head NW.
London city Rooftop Cafe tomatoes
Back to the café’s location. The Exchange is spitting distance from the Shard, but actually couldn’t be more different in its rather dated appearance. Founded as a joint venture, by James Sellar and Sam Aldenton, the building is a co-working space or ‘incubator’ providing offices and business expertise to start-ups. That really quite excited me and so did ringing a bell as I tried to gain entry. Followed by vague directions from the 2nd floor lift, it all felt as if I was really earning my dinner.
The café itself is stunningly designed with simple, clean lines. Instantly greeted by an open-plan kitchen run by Australian Magnus Reid, formerly of St John and The Hackney Pearl, I then stepped out onto the terrace to find real veg and herbs growing as well as a perfectly gritty view of South London. Yvonne, the manager, told me of the plans they have to create a semi-covered area so that we will be able to enjoy the rare summer days (and evenings) up there.
Magnus Reid’s open kitchen at Rooftop Cafe/The Exchange
We ate ridiculously well at pub-grub prices. The menu changes every day, the team are more than keen to please and the whole atmosphere feels very pop-up-esque. Except that they’re here to stay – for at least a couple of years.
clean design at Rooftop Cafe
From 15th June Rooftop Café will be open on Saturday nights. I’d book now if I were you –with only a handful of table – this brilliant roof will soon be fully booked, despite its hidden location.
Ok. Message delivered. I’m off to hide before He comes looking for me…
Herbs galore on the roof
Rooftop Café at The Exchange, SE1 (020 3102 3770).
Open Mon-Fri 8am-3pm, dinner served 6pm-10.30pm Thurs and Fri. About £45 for two not including wine.