Archi-Food walks combine retro architecture with guerilla dining in city of London

By Mark Sheerin | 03 June 2011
Close up of a lolly-style cake with figures in background
A tasty start: cake on a stick in the Barbican Centre© all rights reserved
Tour: Fox & Squirrel Archi-Food, various venues, London

“Like me, you’ve dressed for hiking,” says guide John Bingham-Hall. My tatty black anorak in no way compares with his designer orange rain jacket, but cutting edge style is precisely what separates the urbanists from the provincial web journalists.

A group of figures listen to a tour guide in the Barbican complex, London
John Bingham-Hall demonstrates urbanist credentials with fascinating history of Barbican© All rights seserved
A dozen people have joined the archi-food walk. Our first stop is the Barbican and our first piece of guerrilla dining is to eat some chocolate cake off a stick. Presumably, that’s because plenty of lolly is required to live on the brutalist 1960s estate.

Photo of a retro style meat stall in an indoor market
Chickens beware: a 70s chic poultry stall in Smithfield Market© All rights reserved
Next we hit Smithfield Market, where it comes as a shock to find creative industries doing business in the roof. Having only had VIP access to the dodgiest of nightclubs, it’s great to be backstage at a genuine meat market. And in architectural terms, the 1970s poultry halls are even trendier.

Photo of three young women in a park dining off paper plates
Picnic in the park: not a scotch egg in sight© All rights reserved
We have lunch on the fly in a nearby park. Unlike most picnics, this one has a carefully considered menu. The cote de boeuf and roasted beetroot are especially good. The prosecco is a perfect antidote to the occasional showers which appear to have beset the occasion.

Photo of four jars of chutney on a stone sculpture
Almost too good to eat: condiments and architecture© All rights reserved
Coffee is served a short yomp away in Leather Lane, where architects have had a field day in a former bookshop to make a café called Prufrock. A barista dazzles us with science while a blend from Papua New Guinea works its way through a Japanese Coffee siphon.

Photo of a pair of Japanese coffee siphons in operation
The science of good coffee: siphoning removes the grounds© All rights reserved
Passing Greggs Bakers - where, surprise, surprise, we do not stop - we end up near King's Cross at St Chad’s Place. This Thameslink Rail-themed eatery has been created by another team of enterprising architects (Squire and Partners). I liked to think I had earned the cold beer.

Photo of the interiror of a restaurant with wooden rafters
The right side of the tracks: dining at St Chad's Place above the Thameslink platform© All rights reserved
The full archi-walk experience will last four hours and culminate with a meal at this venue. It comes recommended to anyone with a taste for lesser known parts of London. Just dress suitably.

  • Fox & Squirrel Archi-Food walks cost £80. For more details and to book your place visit

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