With the upcoming weather forecast for London ranging between a balmy 20 degrees and a steaming 27 degrees for this August up until mid September, appetites are going to need whetting and thirsts are going to need quenching.
While office hours keep us confined in the shadows, at lunch and tea the whole city heads towards the last of the sunshine like bees to flowers. Keeping the buzz of summer alive, here's a curated selection of five al fresco dining spots in and around the Shoreditch area that will keep Vitamin D levels maxed out and bellies happy:
Where Dalston Roof Park is acclaimed for its sky high events, Boundary does open air dining better than no other thanks to its feel good design. Fairy lights sprinkle a shimmer across the skyline, as Mediterranean hors d´oeuvres come accompanied with purist cocktails from the softly lit, fruit laden drinks counter. The bar and an intimate seating setup are canopied by a weatherproof pergola laced with grape vines, perfect for looking out across a panorama of East London and the City. The exquisite likes of chargrilled steaks and delicate oysters make their way onto sleek wood furniture, as chattering groups of family and friends devour each course. In the meanwhile, hints of soft leaf scrubs and wild herb bushes here and there provide a sense of nature and vibes of relaxation, continuing the horticultural theme that Boundary does so well.
With a kitchen packed full of staff from the Asian Subcontinent, Dishoom Shoreditch stays loyal to its country of homage. Led by head chef Yashpal Gosai (exported straight from Mumbai), the team plates up Indian fusion cuisine with a playful sense of nostalgia and without compromising on authenticity, paying credence to Bombay's street food with each spicy, sweet or tangy blast of flavour. Front of house are from all over the globe but speak the same language of hospitality, welcoming customers into the old colonialism and faded elegance of the verandah.
It resembles the Irani cafes that once lined the boulevards of Bollywood - dark woods, Persian rugs, slow turning fans, sepia family portraits and the contrast of green hanging plants. Of course, the throwback cannot be complete without show stopping starters such as the Pau Bhaji buns often sold on Chowpatty Beach, famous mains like creamy Malai Chicken, mouthwatering classics such as buttery mango kulfi for dessert, finished off perfectly with a steamy cup of chai. For those who love a sensory overload, this is a must-visit.
"I definitely see a difference in the market back home and here, but what's common is the love for food. The street food stalls in Bombay, people are mad for them, and while here it's on our menu in a more refined way, there are still long queues." - Yashpal Gosai, head chef.
Playground & Proof
Located among a row of victorian industrial arches overlooking London Fields park, Playground is an enclosed courtyard market selling works by creative residents from the surrounding modernised studios. It also makes for a great picnic spot, with permanent foodie fixtures every weekend, from a cheese truck to an in-house BBQ. But if that's not enough, there's also Proof; an all-year round bar on the roof showcasing bespoke refreshments to a 150 capacity space. People dropping in can enjoy botanically brewed soft drinks, local crafts beers, seasonal cocktails and artisan ciders while attending special events such as film screenings.
A venue christened after the old steam locomotive that once rattled over the railway arches above, Beagle is not in fact the namesake of a cute long eared breed of dog. Curved exposed stone ceilings vaulted with blackened steel, reclaimed sleeper flooring and industrial platform lights complete the tribute, providing sophistication to the atmosphere of this Modern British restaurant-bar. Succulent charcoal-fired grills and seasonal veg flavoured to perfection make their way out of the open kitchen, onto an outdoor patio set up with chic garden seating that backs on to a pedestrian-friendly colonnade.
It cuts through the rear of the Geffrye museum and the Kingsland Viaduct servicing Hoxton Station next door, catching the rays that shower Haggerston in summer and make for the perfect urban al fresco spot. Head chef James Ferguson and sous chef Ben Coombs tag team on simple yet elegant dishes such as a fresh herby small plate of artichoke, peas and rocket given a piquant depth by thin curls of finely shaved Berkwell cheese; being inventive, working hard and having fun producing plates that reflect that attitude in both substance and style. To help wash it all down, barman William serves up cosmopolitan digestifs and craft beers with a friendly smile.
"If you've created an ethos to your food, stick to it. Because if you don't, you don't have a leg to stand on. The views on food here are amazing, we're seasonal for sure but we're food-led, in that we'll go as far as Europe to get the best ingredients. And in terms of a restaurant - we are only one - there's no chain." - Ben Coomb, sous chef.
Set in a domed pavilion, Victoria Park's café is designed to be a sun trap, with an airy indoors that sprawls out onto patio seating that overlooks the lake with its fountain and foliage. While the aura and vista of the place are undoubtedly beautiful, the menu is not at all bad either. Aromatic coffees, breakfast teas, eggs of the florentine, royale and benedict kind for brunch, and a refreshing selection of organic, seasonable and local artisanal dishes served later on in the day - with indie beers and homely puds to complement. They even make their own bread! Though only open till 5pm, this understated venue will stand out once you've tasted the grub and taken in the surrounds.