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These 2 East London Rooftop Restaurants Have The Best City Views

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2 months ago

When people are looking for views of the City of London, they often head to the viewing platform at the Shard. This is by no means a bad choice, but if you’re looking for a more intimate view in a far more comfortable setting, these two restaurants have you covered.

We’ve also written about our favorite restaurants in Spitalfields, the area in which both of these restaurants can be found. Those might not have rooftop views, but they serve incredible fare.

Gateway to Spitalfields Market
Spitalfields Market is considered one of the best markets in the UK

The Culpeper

This has become a bit of an institution in East London. The Culpeper is actually split into three: the pub on the ground floor (which is always spilling out the door after 5 pm on the weekdays), the restaurant on the first floor (amazing choice for Sunday Roast), and the rooftop garden, which is where you’re going to get your amazing view of the City of London.

When you ascend to the rooftop from the lower levels, you’ll immediately be greeted by a beautiful greenhouse which hosts the rooftop bar. It’s the perfect place for a drink (even when it’s not sunny – sometimes I prefer it when it’s raining because you can see the rain fall along the sides of the glass).

View of the City of London from the rooftop of the Culpeper - rooftop restaurants london
The view from the rooftop of the Culpeper

This isn’t a full restaurant, but they certainly offer enough to keep you interested. The Culpeper Cheeseburger is usually on the menu, and it’s always a delight.

They’re notorious for not updating their menu online because the menu changes so often with the seasons, but you’re guaranteed an amazing meal, and I’ll tell you why.

Everything the Culpeper grows, they harvest. And everything they harvest, they serve in their dishes. Something from the garden will end up in your meal or drink, and it’s noticeable for its freshness.

All of this and amazing views of the City of London to boot. It’s a pretty impressive place for, say, a day date in London.

Courtyard at the Gilbert & George Centre on Brick Lane - rooftop restaurants london
The Culpeper is very close to the Gilbert & George Centre

Take a walk around the garden (it’s not so big) and see if you can figure out what they’re growing that season. I saw gooseberries the last time I was there. And the greenhouse also grows all year round, including in the colder months.

The Culpeper also does “The Whole Menu” which, at the time of writing, is £75, but it’s enough for at least three people.

Cocktails on the rooftop of the Culpeper rooftop restaurants london
It’s always the right time for cocktails on a rooftop (Source: The Culpeper)

Note that the Culpeper’s rooftop is only open from May until the start of winter.

Maene

This is a tricky one to find because it’s not advertised anywhere and it’s somewhere you need to be told about rather than discover. Maene opened in 2023 and sits proudly on the top floor of an old Victorian clothing factory on Fashion Street, just next to the famous Christ Church.

Christ Church in Spitalfields
Christ Church in Spitalfields is just across the road from Maene

If it’s a sunny day, try to get a seat on the terrace. It’s an unexpectedly great view of the City of London (including the famous gherkin) (although the view is slightly obstructed). And nobody really knows about it.

Maene also does breakfast. And breakfast with a view is always the right way to have breakfast.

Most great restaurants in London will change their menus seasonally, and Maene is no different. Their menu changes monthly but you can always expect quality local British ingredients for their modern European fare.

Given the frequency of changes, it’s difficult to give recommendations that I know will be there when you go, but I can recommend that you order at least three of the starters between two. The starters aren’t the most generous portion sizes, so you might be happier with a few.

Bread sticks with sauce, cakes and meat on plates at Maene Restaurant - rooftop restaurants london
(Source: Maene)

The brown bread ice cream is a particularly unique flavour. If that’s on the menu on the night that you go, give it a shot.

The drinks menu at Maene was particularly creative. I don’t love cocktails as much as I do wine but Maene prides itself in having a non-alcoholic version of every cocktail on the menu. I tried the pastries cocktail (naturally) which tasted like an almond croissant. I was quite intrigued by the potato-based cocktail. I didn’t even know potato skin cordial is a thing!

elephant statue in spitalfields market london
The famous bronze elephants of Spitalfields Market are just a minute away from Maene

Local tip: Maene is locally known for its collaborations with other chefs in what they call Sunday Side Up.

If you plan to go to Sunday Side Up, you’ll need to buy tickets for meals on those days but they’re so worth it. It’s always a great experience.

As with all good restaurants in London, there are vegan and plant-based options at Maene. But we’ve also got you covered on the best vegan in East London.

Front of Townhouse Café in Spitalfields
Townhouse Cafe just next to Maene is always a treat

East London is host to so many amazing restaurants and venues, and this means you need a local hand to guide you through the options. What I would say is you should never be afraid to walk up the stairs of a pub or restaurant in East London. There’s a great chance that you’ll find yourself looking straight at an amazing view of some part of the city.

Update March 3, 2024: Unfortunately, Maene has now closed down. We are expecting another exciting venue to open its doors in May 2024 (and make use of the beautiful rooftop views).


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