A perfect summer’s day is often best paired with a large group of friends, their friends, a few of their cousins, and some of their friends. The stress of organising such an event - especially at a place with good food and drink - does mean that we don’t do it often enough, and the low-level digital torture of the WhatsApp back-and-forth means choosing a location by consensus is not going to happen.
That’s where we come in. Here are some places you can turn up with a gang. None of these are a tiny piece of pavement outside of your local pub, they’re all prime real estate, and they have great options for food too.
You may think of St. John as a place for a classic British meal, but we can also recommend it as a place for a classic British pint. The front bar area here is casual and has plenty of room for groups to roll in. While there’s technically a skylight roof, it feels like you’re outside, and the white walls give it a brightness that’s rare for London. Order a bone marrow and parsley to pass around.
The absolute wrong way to do The Prince is to rock up eight deep with no booking. So definitely book. When you do get there, booking in hand hopefully, you’ll find a massive drinking hall with four restaurants in residence along the sides of the space. This summer, they have Patty & Bun, Begging Bowl, Foleys, and Coqfighter, which should mean something to suit everyone’s tastes. With a covered roof, this is a solid choice to day drink and day eat even when the weather is being a bit ‘British’.
We’re always a bit down on the soulless corporate cesspit that is Canary Wharf, but it does have Giant Robot. It’s a great place to grab some street food, and also a useful spot to gather with a large number of your coworkers or co-corporate hostages for a pint or some cocktails. The elevated location means you get to experience some of the best sunsets in London on the odd occasion the sun decides to pop out.
The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden is essentially a park with a bar, but there are tables and chairs scattered around, and the garden is full of cool structures to wander through. They also let you bring in your own food, so pick up some food from Mangal or Voodoo Rays) to fuel you for the day or night.
Just when you think there are enough ‘cool’ places to eat and drink in Hackney, another one opens to add to your east London decision-making anxiety. Mare Street Market is a very large space that has a bar, a restaurant serving good enough pizza, a deli, record shop, and outdoor space. All of this adds up to make it a pretty decent destination when you’re rolling too deep and need to make a decision.
You looked at your weather app 50 times during the week to make sure that the weekend is going to behave for the big group hang you’ve been organising, but in true British weather fashion, your app is now informing you that a tornado is going to hit 20 mins before kick-off. Fear not - your crew can take refuge in the new Market Halls Fulham. The converted ticket hall is huge and beautiful, and there’s more than enough vendors for you to eat your way out of your disappointment. Thima by the Farang team is definitely the go-to if you are overwhelmed by choice.
Sports, live music, and indoor and outdoor food vendors who range from half decent to full on decent. And if there are a few of you with a bunch of conflicting interests on the food and alcohol front, this place is a good compromise and the food, is very good. Hit up Ekachai for Malaysian char kway teow noodles and dim sum, Savage Salads for, er, nice salads, and Bar Douro for fancy Portuguese small plates.
The White City re-vamp project now includes Feast Bar and Kitchen, a great spot to gather a large group of friends for a hang. During the week expect to share the space with folks working in the area - and at the weekends it’s a great back-up for when your large crew can’t get into this year’s ‘Pergola On The Roof’ set-up. Plan to try one of Morty and Bob’s excellent grilled cheese sandwiches.
If your crew wants to get dressed like they are going out out, but doesn’t actually want to go out out, hit Ham Yard in Soho. It feels sunny most of the year, and come summer they have the outdoor terrace to help you build that tan before your trip to somewhere with better weather. Just don’t get too drunk to think that it’s a good idea to try and have a meal at the restaurant though - you’ll be better off elsewhere in Soho.