Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Waterside Cafe, Barbican

The Barbican is a magnificent, if somewhat incomprehensible structure where you can wonder for hours in growing confusion and frustration. But this giant labyrinth has some beautiful oasises (sp?) hidden within and the Waterside Cafe faces out on to a peaceful, beautiful pond with fountains and a beautiful old building across the water. Alas, it is still too cold to sit outside in the evening. Inside, the design is very functionally 70s, but not necessarily in a bad way. Canteen style, the cafe offers three choices of hot main courses -- this time juicy Lancashire sausages with mash, puff-pastry salmon pie, or jacket potatoes in mushroom and cream sauce. I had a large salad (£5.99) from the salad bar, picking new potatoes with salami, couscous with cream cheese, green beans with bacon, salady items, grated carrots and pickled red cabbage. The cabbage was a bit vinegary for my taste, but the rest was lovely, varied and filling. There are also sandwiches, wraps, pre-packed salads, meat and cheese plates and a sweets counter. The bottled drinks include a selection of alcoholic beverages. It's not an atmospheric place, but a very useful pit-stop pre-performance (they serve until 7.30) and the food quality is much better than I would expect from a canteen. I've yet to try the other two options at the Barbican - Searcys is said to be good, but is pricey and seems to only offer multiple course set menus (no good if you have 30 minutes to wolf down food and get to a show). The Balcony Bistro is less formal and currently offers 80s themed menu to celebrate Barbican's 25th birthday, which leaves me horrified and intrigued -- watch this space to see which sentiment wins.

The Waterside Cafe, Barbican Centre; Tube: Barbican www.barbican.org.uk

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