Rattle’s Folly

The celebrated conductor, Simon Rattle, comes next year to the Barbican in the footsteps of much-loved Colin Davis and highly-regarded Valery Gergiev, to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra.  Sadly his pleasure will not be unalloyed since, it would appear that he feels that the Barbican Hall – not least its acoustics – leaves much to be desired. Now, in regard to acoustics, Simon is doubtless a perfectionist.  Most of us, though, would agree with the music critic of the Daily Telegraph who wrote that we do not go to concerts to listen to acoustics, but to enjoy the music. Acoustics … [Read more...]

New video about The Barbican by the Museum Of London

The Museum of London have put together this lovely new video about the estate. Well worth a watch. … [Read more...]

Review: Club Gascon, West Smithfield

Well what can one say about Club Gascon which hasn’t been said by reviewers before.  It provides a gastronomic experience, though not necessarily to everyone’s taste, courtesy of top chef Pascal Aussignac who is an expert at blending and matching ingredients to whet one’s tastebuds.  As such it is one of three Michelin starred restaurants in the Clerkenwell/Smithfield area (the others being North Road and St. John) having maintained this culinary accolade since 2002.  Reviews by perhaps more gastronomically experienced critics than the writer are almost overwhelmingly extremely … [Read more...]

Water, water everywhere… (The Rain Room at The Barbican)

Water, water everywhere... but not a drop of it falls on you in the Rain Room. The latest show at the Curve space in the Barbican Centre, has been causing long queues since its opening in October. Kate West went to find out if it is worth the wait. I've long been a fan of the Curve Art series. Since its launch in 2006 I've seen things that I loved - roller coasting bowling balls (Jeppe Hein 2007) and guitar-playing finches (Céleste Boursier-Mougenot 2010), things that I thought I would hate but ended up loving - numerous piles of someone’s mother’s hoarded possessions (Song Dong 2012), … [Read more...]

New Cinemas Open

After extensive development Barbican's new improved cinemas are now open. Check them out! http://www.barbican.org.uk/film/new-cinemas     … [Read more...]

The Grill on the Market, West Smithfield.

Simplicity with a bit more personal choice & the sizeable wine list has something for everyone.   The Grill on the Market (formerly Smithfield Bar and Grill – and before that The Living Room) has been refurbished again, but is still managed by the same company and the layout is pretty well unchanged with entry through a large bar area (the restaurant menu is available in the bar too, but there is no specific bar menu), and then up into a fairly spacious, but windowless, restaurant area. Visiting at a lunch time, my starter of seared foie gras (£10) comes pleasantly presented … [Read more...]

Review : The Shakespeare – more than just pub food

There was a time when the Shakespeare pub on Goswell Road close to the Barbican YMCA was anathema to many Barbican and Golden Lane residents with an ultra noisy clientele – sometimes seemingly under age – indifferent pub food and a bit of a run down decor.  The Firkin Group moved in to try and improve it without much success, but for the past couple of years now it has been given a new lease of life since its take-over by the Anglo-Italian Toma family, who have an impressive history in the hospitality, catering and food supply business, and who have presided over quite a transformation.  … [Read more...]

Madison – Spectacular Views for an evening out

Madison  is perhaps the piece de resistance among this grouping of bar restaurants – at least in terms of outlook – a bar restaurant on the top of One New Change where the location could make up for a number of shortcomings.  Despite some not very complimentary reviews in the press and on the internet – although to be fair there were some good ones too – we found nearly everything to be excellent.  Perhaps the only problem was that because of the number of people crowding the bar areas the venue was extremely noisy and it was difficult to carry on a conversation – but that is a result of … [Read more...]

The Well on St. John Street

A Barbican residents’ favourite – The Well The Clerkenwell area is perhaps the home of the very first gastropubs. The Eagle in Farringdon Road up near Exmouth Market is generally credited with being first of the genre to serve classy food in a pub surroundings, and this has spread and spread across London and the country as a whole. The Well in St John Street, a little the other side of Clerkenwell Road is very much of the type and again is one of the earlier examples of a gastropub and has, for a long time, been a favourite with Barbican residents being only about 10-15 minutes walk from … [Read more...]

McQueen – Shoreditch’s homage to Steve

McQueen is a bar and club with a plush and reasonably upmarket restaurant tucked away in the old light industrial area (now mostly smaller offices) in Tabernacle Street in Shoreditch. It is a popular destination – mainly for the bar and club - amongst the younger generation which is presumably where the spending power at such venues lies these days. As the name might suggest the decor is something of an homage to Steve McQueen – chosen as the epitome of ‘cool’ – again aimed at the target market. What McQueen does it does well, and is certainly a popular destination, despite its slightly out … [Read more...]