If it wasn’t clear where I came up with the idea for this blog’s name, then here it is; my absolute all-time favourite film is Mary Poppins. I love everything about it. The songs, the characters, the setting in old London, Julie Andrews… I could go on. And so, my name makes reference to the song ‘Spoonful of Sugar’!
But that’s not really what this post is about, although it certainly has provided the inspiration. St Paul’s plays a prominent role in the film and that’s part of the reason why I love this area of London. As well as the architectural beauty of the Cathedral, which is of of the London skyline’s most iconic landmarks, the area surrounding it has been cleverly landscaped and now boasts an array of shops, cafes and restaurants.
On a sunny day it is the most idyllic place to take a stroll along the River Thames, across the famous Millennium Bridge from which there are stunning views of St Paul’s, or walk around the area soaking up the pretty setting. Do not just admire from the outside though, as the Cathedral is open to the general public and is simply breathtaking inside – it should not be missed. But should you be looking for a bite to eat or a place to relax with a drink, then here are a few places I love:
Bea’s of Bloomsbury
This is such a sweet place, and is best described as a vintage tearoom. Perfect for afternoon tea, coffee and cake, or a spot of light lunch. As you may have guessed, original is in the Bloomsbury area of London and there is now one in Farringdon too, so only three in total. Yet, this only adds to its charm. Recently, my sister took her friends here for birthday celebrations to have afternoon tea. Impressive would be an understatement. It was beautifully presented, the service attentive and there was a mound of delicious food. In fact, they even boxed up the leftovers, there was just so much of it. Equally, it’s a great place for something less filling such as a refreshing pot of tea. I love the decor in here too as it makes it slightly more modern and quirky than an ordinary tea room. A hidden London gem indeed.
Located on the top floor of the One New Change, this place is a winner. The One New Change is a shopping centre that has a variety of shops with some restaurants too, and Madison makes the most of its position on the rooftop terrace. As you come up the glass lifts (hopefully you aren’t afraid of heights!) you are greeted with an amazing view of St.Paul’s and I would advise that you go up to this level even if you’re not visiting Madison. For me, this is what defines this place as a special venue. As you arrive, the cocktail bar is on the left and the restaurant on right. The cocktail bar has seating outside, which in summer I can think of no better spot to sit, relax and enjoy the atmosphere. The food in the restaurant matches the setting, so is ideal if you are looking for a bit of luxury.
I would go as far to say that Madison is not just one of the top destinations near St Paul’s, but in all of London.
I feel there are a lot of ‘up-market’ Burger Chains that are are increasing in popularity, Byron being one of them. Living in London, they are everywhere and everyone is talking about them. I know there aren’t many outside of London, so I’m not sure how well-known it is elsewhere. Yet, in my opinion a Byron burger is the best burger! I love roasted vegetables and goat’s cheese – I think it’s the perfect combination – so I was pretty keen to order this in a brioche bun along with a hearty portobello mushroom the first time I came here. I have tried other burgers since, though this remains my favourite choice on the menu. Sweet potato fries seem to be having a moment right now, but Byron doesn’t serve these. Instead they have something (arguably) even better: courgette fries. They’re pretty delicious. And if you fancy going all-out, I would also recommend the Nachos as a starter. They say they’re for two, but we shared them between four of us and there was still some leftover. All that said, this is a really great place for a delicious lunch or dinner.
For me, the whole idea of a champagne bar is genius. But this place is great because it serves an array of cocktails and other drinks too. On the menu is a Champagne Mojito, which that alone makes this a destination that I have certainly returned to! No stunning views of St Paul’s from here unfortunately as it’s right in the One New Change, but the low lighting is very atmospheric and makes it feel like a special occasion (even if it isn’t!) You by no means feel as though you are sitting amongst the shops however, as it provides an escape from the hustle and bustle. The service is also really good, which only adds to the relaxed ambience. They’re happy to alter the menu in a kind of ‘design your own’ style if you ask and you can even see them making it. I think Searcy’s is most suited to evening drinks, but equally, it is open during the day too. Perfect for both quiet drinks and big celebrations!
An enviable spot on the River Thames, just over the bridge. On a warm day you will definitely want to sit outside, but for indoor dining the big glass windows maximise the beautiful views across to St Paul’s in all weather. It’s also well-situated should you be visiting the Tate Modern or Bankside Gallery. It is technically a pub but you will rarely see tables just having drinks, particularly at meal times, and it does have a restaurant vibe. The food has many similarities with pub food, although I think it would be harsh to call it that. They serve classic dishes as well as a few different choices, all of which are of great quality and taste great. But if you not looking for a meal, I would definitely recommend the sharing boards which make a great accompaniment to drinks. I was very excited when I discovered this place, and once you visit you’ll be wishing to go back soon!
The shopping in this area is not to be missed either. As previously mentioned, the One New Change, which is located opposite St. Paul’s, has a variety of great shops and other well-known brands are a stone’s throw away. For a full list visit –> onenewchange.com
Getting to St Paul’s is relatively straightforward. The underground is on the central line, but only the central line, although many bus routes stop here too. However, my advice is always to get within a reasonably distance and then walk, as you get to know and see more of London. I would also recommend using Citymapper – an indispensable app!
Note: St Paul’s is very close to Fleet Street, the home of the British newspapers, and other companies too. Therefore, lunchtime often sees flocks of workers on their lunch breaks and it can feel very busy at these times. You might not notice it, but just be aware that the crowd in this area will change depending on when you visit.
I hope this has reflected my love for this area and inspired you visit in the near future!