Piccolo Bar, Gresham Street, City of London

Visited: Thursday 17th May 2007, last visited 7th April 2011

Friendly, late-opening haven in the city, much-used by cab drivers.

Interior: I have never been inside the upstairs room, set aside for black cab drivers (although I know of non-cabbies who have and the cabbies often come into the downstairs room). The downstairs room is fine if you’re okay with being in a basement. There’s a smidgen of natural light from glass panels in the ceiling (the sort you walk over in the pavement) and the kind of bare-brick walls one normally sees in upmarket pizzerias. Sky Sports News is *always* on. Still, your dinner will come down in the most fantastic dumbwaiter. Don’t forget to close the door behind it so they can pull it up again.

Food: Generous well-priced portions. Somewhere you can get a hot meal at 9pm should you want to. I had a nice bowl of their ricotta and spinach canelloni and a decaff coffee which really was lovely. I often have it during the break in my choir rehearsals (in the church next door) and not only is it one of the nicest ones I know, but nobody ever makes a fuss about my ordering decaff. My only gripe about the food is that it’s quite difficult to order healthily – they always seem to have run out of veg by 6pm.

In summary: I would always recommend this one for the welcome, the late opening hours and the decent sized portions. A little corner away from the suits in the heart of the city.

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