It’s been eerily quiet in the City over the past few months, but things are starting to come back to life.
Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement last week that England is set to emerge from its “national hibernation,” some of the City’s pubs, restaurants and bars will open their doors for the first time in months tomorrow on so-called Super Saturday.
The two-metre social distancing rule is set to be scrapped in favour of new “one metre-plus” guidance, which means Brits can now enjoy a table-top pint with a friend, but only if they take “mitigating precautions” such as wearing a face mask and gloves.
Most venues have had to overhaul their operations, introducing strict visitor registers, temperature checks, and regular hand washing facilities — and there’ll be no hugging or standing around under the new guidelines.
The new social distancing rules have left the city divided. While police are preparing for “writhing in the beer gardens”, as Johnson described, a poll of more than 25,000 people by research group Find Out Now showed that nearly 93 per cent of Brits are not ready to return to pubs and bars yet.
But for the seven per cent keen to sink a drink or two over dinner, here are the pubs, bars and restaurants reopening in the City tomorrow:
Pubs and bars
All Wetherspoons will be reopening on 4 July, meaning The Crosse Keys, The Windsor Fenchurch, The Sir John Hawkshaw and The Liberty Bounds will all be serving pints on Saturday.
The pub chain hit the headlines at the start of lockdown, after boss Tim Martin refused to pay Wetherspoons’ 43,000 workers as sites remained shuttered. He swiftly U-turned following public outrage, but the hashtag #NeverSpoons did the rounds when the PM announced pubs were set to reopen.
Either way, Wetherspoons pubs will be Covid-ready when they reopen tomorrow, with customers able to order food and drink on the chain’s long-running app.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Grade II listed pub Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street (almost) survived the Fire of London, and it’s not going to let coronavirus stand in its way. The Sam Smiths pub, founded in 1538 and rebuilt in 1667, is set to reopen this Saturday with strict social distancing measures in place. It will have restricted capacity and punters will need to book tables.
Nicholson’s pubs are all set to reopen this weekend, meaning you can get a pint from The Blackfriar, The Hoop & Grapes, The Ship, The Old Bell Tavern The Lord Aberconway, The Magpie, The Sir Christopher Hatton, The Globe, The Sugarloaf, Williamson’s Tavern Ye Olde Watling, The Woodins Shades and The Walrus and Carpenter (phew!).
Bookings only, with maximum table numbers of six. Most opening hours will be reduced and capacity capped, so get there early. Plus, you get a £1 drink for downloading the app.
Vinoteca City will be reopening tomorrow for food and drink. Staff have been retrained to comply with Covid safety measures, and the venue will have reduced seating space and menus. Wine by the glass and draught beer will also be available to take away.
The rooftop bar overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral will be back from 12pm to 1am tomorrow. Staff will wear face masks, menus will be viewed electronically, and tables will be spaced out.
London’s largest outdoor food and beer garden is set to reopen this Saturday, alongside two new mezzanine bars. Only those with “Track and Trace” tickets, free on Vinegar Yard’s website, will be provided entry. Al fresco diners can reserve tables of up to six people, and street food will be open from next week
The Ivy West Street and The Ivy Asia in St Pauls are set to reopen this Saturday. The Ivy have gone all out on safety — installing thermal cameras for temperature checks, new air conditioning units, and tracking software for staff to log daily temperature readings.
The Lutyens building will be partially reopening this weekend, but will only be serving food at just two of its eight restaurants — Millie’s and Kaia.
There will be table service only, and no “vertical” drinking — meaning The Ned’s bars will remain shut for now.
To comply with new government guidelines, there will be no band in the central bandstand, but fear not — music will waft up to the ground floor from a DJ hidden downstairs by the Vault bar. The Ned will also be taking room bookings from 4 July.
14 Hills on Fenchurch Street will reopen tomorrow, serving food and drink on its 14th floor restaurant. The scenic spot will be hosting a Comeback Brunch on Saturday and Sunday, with music from DJ Annie at a celebratory party from 12.30-4.30pm.
Book online, and don’t forget the smart/casual dress code. No sportswear, caps, tracksuits or flip flops.
Galvin Bistrot & Bar
The Galvin Brothers will be opening their new casual Spitalfields spot this Saturday. The group were forced to permanently close their flagship Galvin Bistro de Luxe restaurant during the pandemic — but their new Spitalfields joint is set to fill its shoes. Expect classic French food, drink and decor.
Gaucho’s restaurants in Tower Bridge and Broadgate will both be reopening tomorrow. Al fresco dining will be on the menu at both — booking advised.
Paternoster Chop House
Paternoster Chop House next to St Paul’s is set to reopen tomorrow. Electronic menus will be available and the restaurant will have reduced capacity so booking is advised
Burger & Lobster
Burger & Lobster West India Quay has fought tooth and claw through the coronavirus crisis with its home delivery DIY kits, and will be reopening tomorrow. Soak up the sun on the terrace or order takeaway.
M’s fine dining restaurant in the City will be reopening tomorrow, back with first rate beef from across the globe.
Padella Shoreditch will be back rolling pasta tomorrow — this time with Covid-friendly virtual queuing via the Walkin app.
Coq d’Argent in Bank is back, with a new menu and rooftop rosé. Tables on the terrace will be served on a first come first serve basis from 12pm. Staff will wear face masks, menus will be viewed electronically, and tables will be spaced out.
Pizza Pilgrims In West India Quay will be firing up its ovens on 4 July. The venue will offer reduced capacity, ‘one metre’ spaced tables with Perspex screens, increased cleaning and sanitation procedures to make consumers feel safe when dining in.
Homeslice City is back tomorrow for reservations and takeaway only. There’ll be reduced capacity with tables available for one hour slots. Outside tables will be offered on a first come first served basis.
The low-key pasta restaurant in Aldgate will be opening for bookings and takeaway tomorrow.
Vegan and vegetarian restaurant Bubala on Commercial Road will be back serving food tomorrow from 12-3 and 5.30-10. Go for falafel and hummus and salted grapefruit bellinis.