City Guide: London
In this first edition of our new Finlay & Co. City Guides, we explore the city we know best, our home town London.
From unexpected breakfasts and hidden getaways in the city, to the newest restaurants causing a stir and the ultimate bars playing out the best live music in London; let us take you on a journey through the hustle and bustle of this great metropolis with recommendations from the Finlay & Co. team.
GRANGER & CO. - in King’s Cross serves excellent coffee, antipodean style, in a modern, airy dining room with a central bar. The restaurant forms part of a London collective opened by Australian restauranteur Bill Granger. The King's Cross branch is our favourite and is the perfect spot to get a coffee before a wander up to Granary Square and down along the canal. If you’ve got the time, stay for the food, in particular we recommend the breakfast, try the ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter! [grangerandco.com]
TIMBERYARD - in Covent Garden is a great space for when you want to work from a cafe. There's lots of natural light, good coffee, plenty of cakes on offer, plug sockets everywhere and just a very chilled vibe. You could quite easily spend all day there. There’s more space downstairs with lots of cozy nooks if upstairs gets too busy. [tyuk.com]
DISHOOM - is a modern Indian restaurant chain taking London by storm. We love going to Dishoom when there's a big group of us. It's also a great spot for impressing visitors to London. When it comes to breakfast, an Indian restaurant might not your first port of call, however the breakfast at Dishoom Shoreditch is something else! Try the Sausage Naan Roll - you will NOT be disappointed. [dishoom.com]
THE WOLSELEY - at 160 Piccadilly, next to the Ritz in Mayfair is one of our favourite places for breakfast in the city. The Grade II listed building, which first opened in the 1920’s, has this grand big dining room with high ceilings and serves everything from eggs benedict to caviar omelettes. Some will know it for its afternoon tea, but the breakfast is top notch. It's good for both business meetings and breakfast dates. [thewolseley.com]
MAC & WILD - has been described as "the best restaurant in the world", by Giles Coren for The Times. And we tend to agree. Set up by friends of ours from Scotland, Mac & Wild is all about wild deer and whisky - a taste of the highlands. The Mac & Wild lads started selling at markets and pop-up’s before they opened their restaurant in 2015 on Great Titchfield Street. All of the meat is sourced from Scotland and there are over 100 whiskies on the menu. It’s not cheap, but with every mouthwatering bite taken, you’ll know it’s been worth every penny. [macandwild.com]
THE BARBARY - in Covent Garden is well worth a visit when there's just two of you dining. It opened earlier in 2016 to rave reviews following the success of sister restaurant The Palomar. Picture a horse-shoe kitchen bar that you sit around facing in towards the chefs, who you’ll get to know well enough to enjoy a shot with at the end of your meal. The menu is inspired by dishes from Israel, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. You’ll probably be looking at six dishes between two of you. You can’t book in advance so arrive before 7pm for a short-ish wait. [thebarbary.co.uk]
FARMACY - in Notting Hill is the new vegan, plant-based restaurant that everyone is talking about. The way the food and the restaurant itself is presented is impeccable. We never knew so many foods could be substituted with others! Try the Mexican Bowl with guacamole, tomato ceviche and purple potato mash. Thanks to the great reviews circulating, the place was buzzing with a young crowd when we were there, but there was a nice laid-back atmosphere to it. For four people sharing two starters, a main each and two desserts between the group and a couple of drinks each, it came to roughly £35 per head. [farmacylondon.com]
RUMPUS ROOM - on the 12th floor of the Mondrian hotel has open air balconies and 360 degree views of London. It's the perfect date night spot, especially on a Wednesday evening when you'll be treated to some free live jazz. Head up for a bottle of red, a charcuterie board to share and enjoy the views whilst you sink into the sumptuous red chairs. [morganshotelgroup.com]
DRINK, SHOP, DO - in King's Cross is equal part cafe, bar, shop and activity playground for adults. Set across three levels, you can go there for bottomless brunch in the morning, tea and cake in the afternoon, cocktails to get your night started and then downstairs for late night dancing with always excellent DJ’s. What’s more, there is an ever changing schedule of jovial activities to enjoy with friends almost every night of the week from calligraphy and unicorn piñata making workshops, to Silent Speed Dating and musical bingo. [drinkshopdo.com]
SKY GARDEN - completes the entire top floor of 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the Walkie Talkie building. It makes for a great spot for an after work cocktail. Just head up after 6pm, when you no longer need a ticket and head to the Sky Pod Bar as soon as you walk in to get a drink and take in the view of London at night. We also love going to Sky Garden before 10am for a morning coffee and to get first dibs on the terrace for when it opens at 10am. [skygarden.london]
CINE LUMIERE - is an art deco cinema set within the French Institute in South Kensington which screens new French releases, old classics and other international and independent films. There’s a little bistro downstairs which is super chilled and perfect for meeting friends for a glass of vino before the film. [institut-francais.org.uk]
THE READING ROOM - at the Wellcome Collection Gallery in Euston is a tranquil spot filled with bookshelves, artefacts, sculptures, board games and big comfy sofas. It's a great spot on the top floor of the gallery to simply escape and enjoy a little peace and quiet. Visit one of the exhibitions, peruse the gift shop - one of the best gallery shops in town and then head up to the Reading Room to play a board game, read, or simply take a nap! Perfect for a rainy day. [wellcomecollection.org]
RONNIE SCOTTS JAZZ CLUB - Whether you’re into jazz music or not, any stint in London should feature a visit to the legendary jazz club in Soho. Picture walking through the red velvet curtains into a dimly lit basement room. Your eyes slowly adjust to the soft, red glow of the lamps which illuminate each table lined up around the stage. As you sink into your seat, you are at once transported to the 1950’s. You can imagine the club in its formative years, cigarette smoke coiling upwards towards the ceiling, the room abuzz with chatter, the sound of red wine being poured into glasses. Ronnie Scott’s is an intimate venue where you can catch jazz royalty and upcoming stars and it is packed out every night of the week. [ronniescotts.co.uk]
THE PIANO WORKS - in Farringdon is a great place for a night out with a big group of friends. It’s a big Victorian warehouse which has been converted into a bar and restaurant, with what looks like a boxing ring for a stage where two pianists and accompanying musicians play live music, all night long. You can put in requests, which they will actually play and what starts off as background music as you enjoy a few cocktails, gets quite raucous after about 9:30pm where everyone gets on the dance floor. [pianoworks.bar]
MEET LONDON BARBER - TOMMY CUNLIFFE
Tommy is a barber. He’s also co-manager of the new Ruffians Barber shop in Shoreditch.
We first met Tommy a few years back when we collaborated with Ruffians to create an exclusive collection of wooden sunglasses for them to sell in store alongside the Ruffians grooming products and he’s been cutting our hair ever since.
Ruffians is the traditional barber shop experience reconstructed. Think stylish, yet masculine shop floor, a coffee bar and a fridge full of beer. Around you fellow customers are receiving beard trims, cut throat shaves and haircuts. There’s a buzz about the place as people chat and socialise long after the unrequired hairs have been vacuumed off their necks. Getting a trim is no longer a chore. Step into Ruffians and you’ll be transported to a time where your barber shop is the social hub of the community.
We visited Tommy in his new digs on Rivington Street, Shoreditch to ask him why barbering and why Ruffians.
What was your journey into barbering?
"After university, I was working in event management in Nottingham. But, I wasn’t happy. I hadn’t found my thing and so I started applying for other roles. As I was going to these interviews dressed in my suit, something didn’t feel right, nothing was falling into place. I thought, let’s go for a haircut. When I was younger, I would pop down to the barbers almost once a week - I’ve always loved messing around with my hair, playing with the clippers. And as I sat there in the chair, I wondered to myself, could I cut hair?
Later that evening, I researched what training I would need to undertake to become a barber. With enough finances to support myself and a few months later; I was learning to cut hair. After training, Ruffians owner Andrew Cannon took me on and I can honestly say, I’ve never once looked back".
How has this career change affected your life?
"It’s funny, I never knew that I wanted to cut hair, I didn’t know that I’d be any good at it. But now I am completely in love with it. And it permeates every part of my life. I can’t watch watch a film without thinking about it. I look at a character’s hair and think why have they cut or styled the hair in that particular way, how have they done it, and could I do it. And this has all come about from a point in my life where I wasn’t sure what I was doing with my career and thinking about the things that I liked and exploring that further".
Your passion has certainly paid off - two years in and you were winning awards?!
"Oh ok, I get quite embarrassed about it really. It’s an industry award and Andrew put me up to it. I got through to the final and was totally stoked. Never thought I’d actually win. When I went to go and collect my award, I was so nervous. I think I just said thank you and ran off the stage! What was great though was that same year we won Best Salon Team so we all went up together as one big family!"
Tell us about the Ruffians experience in Shoreditch?
"We here to make the guys in the local area look and feel great. But we also want this place to be a really sociable. Barbers can chat across the floor as it’s all open plan, people can work at the counter if they want to, or sit and chat with a drink on the bench outside. It’s all designed to create a place where people can come and relax whether they’re visiting just for a one off or come every week. We’ve already had loads of people who work around the area pop in to say hello which has been great. And soon we’ll be launching acoustic evening sessions".
And finally, your Finlay frames of choice?
Bowery Amber (£140)