I’ve loved old before it was trendy - not that I had a choice in the matter; as a two-year-old my wardrobe consisted of hand-me-downs from my mum’s godson and dungarees fashioned from off-cuts. And while I looked great, it was not the ‘prettiest’ look. Perhaps instead, I should have taken inspiration from LINO, the former linoleum factory that’s now one seriously sexy brunch spot.
Sandwiched in the commercial no man’s land between Finsbury and Farringdon, LINO hasn’t let its location stopped anyone’s boozy brunch activity over the weekend. While neighbouring restaurants are shut for the Saturday slump, this space gently buzzes with a grown-up crowd sipping bubbles before heading to watch a Six Nations match. And it’s not hard to see why it should beat the City’s usual emptiness, as a former factory is transformed Cinderella-style, with polished concrete floors, blushed pink seating, and steel pipes running across the ceiling.
A white-tiled, circular bar sits in the middle of the room, from which cocktails and bubbles are slung out in impressive fashion. It’s so impressive that we can’t help but put them to the test, seemingly ordering most of their drinks list. White Smoke (£10) arrives as a slosh of milky liquid that hits with a smoky mezcal, followed by smooth white chocolate and amaretto. Tinkerbell (£10) is similarly as short and as easily excusable to drink in the morning, a mix of grapefruit juice and raspberry syrup spiked with tequila.
As we make a start on a herbaceous Sour Bush (£10 - rosemary, gin, absenteroux, honey and lime), our sharing board starter arrives, or rather several boards piled high. The £22 price tag might deter some, but actually there’s enough food to feed a small army, from light sauerkraut croquettes dipped into indulgent truffle mayo through to fried chicken pieces and a whopping plate of homemade hummus. We should have stopped there, but another cocktail - a negroni - later and I’m tucking into a hefty plate of fried chicken, natural yogurt and thick waffle (£15), with crunches of candied peanuts to add to the sweetness.
The DesignMyNight Digest
The City might not be the most characterful place on the weekend - but LINO is. If you’re all about that brunch aesthetic, this restaurant is gorgeous, food is seasonal and attempts to keep waste to a minimum, and cocktails so quaffable, you may end up far squiffier than you intended at 2pm.