Pop-Up Cafe At The Barbican Conservatory

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 166 months ago

Last Updated 17 August 2010

Pop-Up Cafe At The Barbican Conservatory


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.

Judging by this visit, the Barbican can't finish the new cafe and bistro (renamed Barbican Food Hall and Barbican Lounge) soon enough.

The summer cafe is open from 9am - 7.30pm Mon-Fri, 10.30am - 7.30pm Saturday, and 11am - 7.30pm Sunday. Check the website before you go as the venue sometimes closes at weekends for weddings