Neighbourhood knowhow: Exmouth House
Neighbourhood knowhow: Exmouth House
Clerkenwell - between the edge of The City and King’s Cross, with Angel and Farringdon in easy reach - has been a magnet for boundary-pushers since the days of Dickens and Marx. Just as rich in creative spirit today, the area’s medieval history, Georgian terraces and converted warehouses go shoulder-to-shoulder with design-led independent shops and beloved restaurants. At its heart - and just steps from Workspace Exmouth House - is foodie favourite Exmouth Market. As office space in Clerkenwell goes; it doesn’t get much more in the thick of things than this
Go on a one street global food safari at Exmouth Market, on the doorstep of our Exmouth House office space. This pedestrianised street is a renowned foodie haven, with good reason. As well as a stretch of excellent bricks and mortar restaurants, on weekday lunchtimes a cluster of food stalls dish up top-notch street food at one end. For grab and go, don’t miss Spinach & Agushi’s Ghanaian jollof boxes - spicy rice topped with tasty spinach or chicken stew - while restaurant highlights include whipped feta haydari with pita at Tel Aviv-influenced Shawarma Bar and Spanish tapas at Morito.
Exmouth market food stalls open 12.00 - 14.00 ish weekdays
Leather Lane Market
This 400 year-old-market might have started out as a clothing hotspot, but today it’s a street food spectacular. Sandwiched between Hatton Garden and Chancery Lane, ten minutes from Workspace Exmouth House, it’s a lunchtime feasting spot thanks to its strip of popular street food stalls. Here, ciabatta sandwiches from family-run South American joint Com Amor come packed with spiced oyster mushroom or chimichurri rib eye steak, while Yorkshire Burrito prove that roast dinners aren’t just for weekends, with their on-the-go twist on Sunday lunch; beef - or cheesy roasted cauliflower - sage and onion stuffing, roasties and gravy, wrapped in a Yorkshire pud burrito.
https://www.instagram.com/leatherlanelondon; Leather Lane Market, EC1N 7TJ; individual stall opening times vary, approx 11.00 - 14.00 weekdays, https://comamor.squarespace.com/, https://www.yorkshireburrito.com/
The Exmouth Arms
With a handsome red brick facade, racing green tiles and rainbow stained glass windows this Victorian boozer - open since 1863 - remains an attractive prospect. Its solid combination of on-tap ales, craft beers, battered halloumi wraps and smash burgers in brioche buns make it a strong pick for lunches and after-work drinks, particularly in summer when the pavement seating comes into its own.
https://www.exmoutharms.com/; 23 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL; Mon 12.00 - 23.00, Tue - Thu 12.00 - 00.00, Fri - Sat 12.00 - 01.00, Sun 12.00 - 22.30
The Betsey Trotwood
Come to the Betsey for the seasonal pies (beetroot, squash and Jerusalem artichoke, chicken and leek) and greenhouse-meets-Victoriana decor (suspended origami cranes, potted plants in swinging macrame, gilt-edged mirrors); stay for the rip-roaring live entertainment. From comedy and alt-country shows to a monthly Book Quiz - adored by the QI elves - there’s never a dull moment at this three-floor venue. The cellar bar, with arch snugs where trains clatter above, is particularly atmospheric.
https://www.thebetsey.com/; 56 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3BL; Mon 17.00 - 23.00, Tue 12.00 - 23.30, Wed 12.00 - 00.00, Thu-Fri 12.00 - 01.00, Sat 17.00 - 01.00
For a touch of escapism
La Petite Ferme
Alpine flair - and fare - reigns at this cosy French bistro and wine bar on Farringdon Road. The farmhouse-feel dining room with wooden seating, peeling painted shutters, cockerel statues and vintage postcards sets the mood to south-eastern France in a flash. While the all-you-can-eat raclette is the star turn, the onion soup, Tartiflette, and small producer-focussed wine list also get the thumbs up.
https://www.lapetitefermelondon.com/; 102-104 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3EA; lunch Thu - Fri 12.00 - 15.00, dinner Mon - Sat 17.30 - 22.00
Clerkenwell was once a hotbed for illicit gin distilleries, and this cocktail lounge in The Zetter Townhouse hotel brings this heritage to life in eccentric style. Behind a duck egg blue door is a Russell Sage-designed living room kitted out in the style of an imagined, well-to-do Great Aunt, Wilhelmina. Bold burgundy walls give a high-drama backdrop to velvet armchairs, antique furnishings and taxidermy, while the likes of tequila, lime flower and vetiver Limas, are shaken up behind an apothecary-style bar.
49-50 St John's Sq, London EC1V 4JJ; Tue - Weds 07.30 - 23.30, Thu - Fri 07.30 - 00.00, Sat 08.00 - 00.30, Sun 08.00 - 18.00
Dans Le Noir?
In the age of designed-for-Instagram meals, Dans Le Noir? - a ten minute walk from Exmouth House - offers a fresh perspective. Guided by a team of visually impaired hosts, the entire dining experience takes place in complete darkness with each dish remaining a surprise, allowing flavours, textures and smells to take centrestage. An illuminating post-meal debrief - with the lights on - reveals what was on the menu.
https://london.danslenoir.com/; 69-73 St John St, EC1M 4NJ; Tues - Weds 17.30 - 23.00, Thu 17.30 - 23.30, Fri 17.00 - 00.00, Sat 12.00 - 15.00, 17.30 - 23.30, Sun 13.00 - 15.00, 17.30 - 23.30
Walking in to this minimalist Korean teahouse, designed in the style of a traditional hanok (house) with granite and timber countertop and fluttering white banner flags feels like a full body exhale. Dreamt up by Sooji Im, founder of fine tea brand Be-oom, which means ‘to empty’, her homage to Korean culture offers a tranquil pause in the midst of energetic Exmouth Market. The menu spans Early Sparrow Green Tea through to blossom brews, which use dried magnolia petals. Out back, there’s a cute conservatory greenhouse, and on Wednesdays there are after-hours tasting workshops.
https://www.be-oom.com/; 27 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL; Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat - 12.00 - 19.00, Wed - 12.00 - 18.00, Sun 12.00 - 17.00
For a cultural fix
Mail Rail at The Postal Museum
Yes, Exmouth House has a stellar location close to Farringdon, Chancery Lane and Russell Square’s Underground stations, but Clerkenwell’s also home to a secret, subterranean network of tunnels - London’s 100-year-old postal railway. Between 1927 and 2003, Mail Rail used to whizz mail across the capital, 20m below ground. At its peak, its driverless trains carried 4 million letters a day. Now, a fascinating fifteen-minute miniature railway ride pootles through the tunnels, and the ticket price includes access to the over-the-road Postal Museum, home to interactive exhibits and factoids aplenty - who knew postboxes weren’t originally pillarbox red?
https://www.postalmuseum.org/; 15-20 Phoenix Place, WC1 0DA; Weds - Sun 10.00 - 17.00 (museum), 10.00 - 15.30 (Mail Rail)
Whether it’s breakdancing, Bollywood or Matthew Bourne’s otherwordly ballet which appeals, every kind of dance imaginable can be seen at this world-class venue on Rosebery Avenue. While the larger 1500-seat auditorium draws the big-hitting names, the more intimate,180-seat Lilian Baylis Studio is a great spot to catch up-and-coming talent.
www.sadlerswells.com; Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN
Shops worth stopping in
Marby & Elm
Can a shop have a twinkle in its eye? A visit to this letterpress stationery and design shop Marby & Elm answers that question with a resounding ‘yes’. Announced by a smart red-and-white striped awning, it’s a go-to for witty cards; ‘Sorry I’m late, I didn’t want to come’ is a best seller. As well as bespoke in-shop printing, expect stirring, soul-baring conversations. During lockdown, an Instagram post from designer and owner Eleanor Tattersfield read ‘I’ll send you a postcard, you send me a secret.’ The result was a flurry of anonymously-penned lockdown secrets-by-postcard, later made into a book. Currently she’s on the lookout for secret acts of kindness, so pop in and collect a postcard to pen.
https://www.marbyandelm.com/; 53 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL; Mon - Fri 11.00 - 17.00
Dried floral bouquets hang from the ceiling in this terribly pretty florists-meets-artisan gift shop owned by Alice Howard. As well as seasonal blooms on display out front, watch hand-tied arrangements being tied out back, and browse botanical-inspired and hand-casted shell jewellery made by in-house jeweller Noriko.
https://botaniqueworkshop.com/; 31 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL; Mon - Sat 08:45 - 19.30; Sun 09.00 - 18.00