Chances are your local branch of Natwest looks nowhere near as good as this former bank alongside Old Spitalfields Market in East London. The Brushwick Street building is now home to Blixen, a European-style brasserie that evokes a time before bullet-proof glass and formica leaflet stands took the place of varnished wood and leather seats in our banks; the restaurant has brought them back along with other classic mid-century design detailing such as brass fittings and banquettes. The high ceilings have allowed the installation of feature lighting and a grand walnut bar, and the large ornate windows are as nice to look at as they are to look out of (they also provide lots of natural light for daytime diners).
Things get going at breakfast time here, and continue through until post-dinner nightcaps. Dining is pretty relaxed, and you shouldn’t need an overdraft extension to afford the food which is drawn from across Europe – think light lunches of soups and sandwiches such as a croque madame with duck egg and raclette, and a traditionally-arranged dinner menu with specials including monkfish tail, a crumbed ox tongue salad and rhubarb meringue. There’s a juice and smoothie menu, as well as a good cocktail list bringing old classic recipes up to date.