We bet you never thought you’d eat oysters on a double decker bus or take part in a fine dining supper club… in a tube carriage from the sixties. If you want to try somewhere a little more quirky than your usual haunts, trade Starbucks with a black cab and your Friday night bar with a jazz club in a church crypt. They shouldn’t work but they do, so here are 10 unusual London venues offering everything from coffee to afternoon tea.
What: British Smokehouse in a Derailed Train Carriage
Why: Caboose is all-American street food meets de-railed train carriage. Except said carriage is in Shoreditch, right next to The Old Truman Brewery. Serving big-hitting Southern classics you’ll find slow smoked chicken wings, 10 hour fruit wood smoked pulled pork belly and 12 hour hickory wood smoked beef brisket with sweet maple slaw and BBQ pit beans. The cabin is available for private hire for 11 guests although they did manage to squeeze 13 in once. Probably more comfortable before the meal than after… It’s BYOB and they even put an ice chest out for you to fill.
Where: The Old Truman Brewery, Ely’s Yard, Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL
THE BLACK CAB COFFEE CO
What: Coffee from a Black Cab
Why: If Vauxhall is part of your morning commute then trade your morning Starbucks run with a stop off at The Black Cab Coffee Co. The fully converted black cab complete with raised roof (which a bearded barista may or may not be standing out of) serves artisan coffee and cocktails outside Vauxhall station as well as being available for private hire for weddings, parties, festivals and corporate events.
Where: Riverside Walk, Battersea, SW8 5AU
THE BLOODY OYSTER
What: Double Decker Oyster Bar
Why: We’ve written about them before and it’s no surprise we’re writing about them again here. The Bloody Oyster is a crowdfunded double decker bus which serves oysters and the perfect Bloody Mary from (more often than not) outside the Royal Festival Hall. If you’re quick you’ll catch them there until the 18th September for £1 oyster happy hours and £5 cocktails but after that time take a look at their website for up to date whereabouts. They will also bring their oysters to you if you’ve got an event that you want spicing up, with or without the big red bus.
Where: In between the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank
What: Cafe in a Victorian Public Loo
Why: There are actually a surprising number of venues in converted public loos but our pick is The Attendant in Fitzrovia. The wrought iron entrance leads way to the old Victorian public convenience which, after a good scrub, was converted into The Attendant as we know it in 2013. Original porcelain urinals function as tables along one wall with great coffee (from their own roastery) and seasonal food served daily. Bright lighting and white tiles stop the space from feeling dingy and if its history puts you off slightly, don’t let it – it sat unused for over 50 years before the current owners got their clean hands on it.
Where: 27a Foley Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 6DY
What: Fine Dining Supper Club… in a Tube Carriage
Why: When something is described as ‘underground’ it tends to just mean it’s a bit secretive but Basement Galley take this much more literally. Their pop-up restaurant takes place in a 1969 tube carriage in Walthamstow with Cordon Bleu-trained chef, Alex Cooper and former Pollen Street Social chef Shiann Stuvier taking charge of the kitchen. It started life as a supper club in their Brixton flat but fast forward a few years and has evolved with sophisticated French/Scandinavian inspired cuisine and the occasional chef takeover – former Cinnamon Club, Galvin Bistrot and Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s chef, Pratap Chahal recently jumped on board.
Where: 10 South Access Road, Walthamstow, E17 8AX
What: London’s Smallest Coffee Shop
Why: Visit Columbia Road Market at the weekend and you’ll find one little coffee shop busier than the rest. Part of art gallery, StArt Space, StArt Coffee operates from a hole in the wall with a lone barista making flat whites pretty much non-stop. As well as any type of coffee (made with their signature Italian-style dark roast), they serve freshly squeezed orange juice, pastries and water for dogs. Grab a coffee then stroll through the flower market.
Where: 150 Columbia Road, Hackney, E2 7RG
SWINGERS GRAZY GOLF CLUB
What: Crazy Golf in a WW2 Bunker
Why: The crazy golf phenomenon that has swept London was kickstarted by Swingers. When they opened their crazy golf club inside a huge World War Two bunker under the streets of the City no one (understandably) stopped to think what the space had once been. For now, grass ramps, shrubbery and water features make the club feel anything but bunker and with cocktails flowing and street food from Le Bab, Pizza Pilgrims and Patty & Bun, you certainly won’t go hungry.
Where: 8 Brown’s Buildings, City, EC3A 8AL
JAZZ LIVE AT THE CRYPT
What: Jazz Club in a Crypt
Why: You wouldn’t instantly associate a crypt beneath a church in Camberwell with smooth sounding jazz but that’s exactly what happens at St. Giles Church. Top jazz bands from the UK and further afield have taken to the stage since it became a jazz club in 1995, with improvisation nights every Friday and shows on some Thursdays and Saturdays, staying open until 2am.
Where: St Giles Church, Camberwell Church Street, London, SE5 8RB
What: Travelling Afternoon Tea
Why: Is it a boat or is it a bus? It’s actually both. In addition to their Covent Garden tea salon, B Bakery serve their afternoon tea on a roving tour on both a boat and a double decker bus past the sights of London (although don’t expect a tour guide). The tea is known for its cupcakes which are served alongside macaroons and mini savouries. The boat tour departs from Butler’s Wharf at 2pm and cruises past all the big sights; the London Eye, Big Ben, St Paul’s and under Tower Bridge whilst the bus tours depart from Victoria Coach Station and Northumberland Avenue before zooming past Harrods, the Royal Albert Hall, Notting Hill and Trafalgar Square.
THE FLOATING BOATER
What: Canal Boat for Private Hire
Why: The Floating Boater is a canal boat floating on the Regents Canal in Little Venice. Used for private functions, The Prince Regent is a unique option for corporate entertainment and private parties, all year round. The elegant deck is great for summer soirees then, come winter, the cosy wooden saloon inside has full central heating. Cruise past London Zoo, Regents Park and the 272 yard Maida Hill Tunnel on the 3-4 hour trip, drinking and eating as you go.
Where: Little Venice, Warwick Crescent, W2 6NE