The Rooftop Cafe at The Exchange

Published on Bon Vivant on 6th March 2013:

Underneath the towering shadow of The Shard is an unlikely restaurant – the Rooftop Café at The Exchange. Part of an office building, the Rooftop Café is not easy to find but that’s one of the reasons why it’s such a great hideaway.

Open since January this year and despite being right next to The Shard, the Rooftop Café at The Exchange has somehow managed to maintain its views. Inside, the open kitchen is the first thing to greet you as you enter. The stripped-back dining room is spread over three little pockets of space, divided by banquettes and chairs. Comfortable, but not too cosy.

The food is simple but the menu changes daily with four options per course. For a menu so small, it also offers a surprising number of dishes suitable for vegetarians.

The starters were charmingly simple. We had pancetta with poacher (cheese), pear and walnut and goats curd with green beans, shallot and capers. Warm, light and a very ingredient led introduction to the food at the Rooftop Café at The Exchange.

For mains, there was the truffled mushroom ravioli with parmesan and the special – a chorizo stew. The pungent truffled filling of the ravioli was cased in delicate fresh pasta that broke all too easily.

The chorizo stew, laden with chick peas and lightly spiced, was topped with dressed salad and bread. Both dishes were well-portioned and balanced. Other dishes available included the scallops with black pudding and seared apple.

The wine list, mostly European, is also compact, varied and interesting. Their focus is on sustainability and small producers and it really shows. The wine we had, a red made from a blend of three grape varieties indigenous to Italy, was sealed with a beer cap top and a basic label. Impressive is the fact that only 200 bottles of it were produced and while difficult to get into, it proved a good match for the food.

A banana cake with salted caramel ice cream and orange cake with crème fraiche were ordered for dessert. The soft citrus of the orange cake worked well with the zest blended into the crème fraiche while the banana cake with the ice cream was another classic flavour combination.

The food at the Rooftop Café at the Exchange is simple but delicious and the service is helpful and attentive. It’s a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere to catch up with friends or go on a date where there’s no pressure of challenging food or the cold silence of fine dining.

Like the food, it’s the perfect antidote to the wintry weather but it also bears delightful possibilities for the summer with the rooftop terrace.

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