While two of the Centre's restaurants are refurbished, the Barbican has opened a pop-up cafe in their conservatory.
Sounds a nice idea: the 'Can's conservatory is an Arcadian haven in the City, and would seem a good place for a bit of lunch, but our visit on a grey Sunday afternoon was underwhelming. The cafe is located on the fourth-floor terrace, overlooking the conservatory, yet despite the foliage there's a funereal atmosphere. Balloons and gaily coloured umbrellas hang forlornly, like the remnants from a child's birthday party; fan blades overhead chop the air with a staccato swish that evokes the haunting opening to Apocalypse Now. A little music would have helped immeasurably.
The food is also disappointing. Searcy's (who also operate a restaurant elsewhere in the Centre) are running the cafe, but the range of hot food was limited: only three options on the menu, along with one soup. A selection of limp sandwiches encased in brown boxes was equally unappealing. We settled for a pair of sarnies (one Ploughman's, one mozarella and tomato), which were unenthusiastically nibbled on before being wisely discarded. Drinks-wise, the pre-mixed blueberry smoothie fared a little better, but there wasn't much more to recommend.