Inn The Park
With its Scandinavian pod-like wooden structure, complete with turf roof (designed by the acclaimed Michael Hopkins), Inn the Park is something of an organism itself in the world of London cafes. Set within the sanctuary of the chocolate-box St James’s Park and lake, in amongst the plucky ducks, the greedy pelicans and the coy moorhens, this is a place that adapts with the seasons. Thus, we cannot tell you what time it closes officially, because a wet and wintry Monday night is a different beast to a summer’s Saturday when Inn the Park’s Pimms-soaked barbecue is a-go. And it’s a proudly British species – under the direction of gastropreneur Oliver Peyton (he of retro-luxe caterer Peyton & Byrne, at the National Gallery, The Wallace Collection and ICA; see Culture), sourcing is staunchly local and artisan – yes to organic beers and ciders, outright no to Coca-Cola. It’s a complex creature: there is waiter service and a` la carte dining (set menu only on weekends) in the Tom Dixon-designed chalet interior, a canteen for speed-diners and those preferring to dine alfresco on the decked lakeside terrace, and sandwiches and hampers for picnickers. Which, on beastly busy summer weekends, might be the best option.