Corney & Barrow - Exchange Square

C&B Exchange Square

You can tell a lot about the culture of a place by how its planners choose to treat the humble town square.

In some towns, the square becomes a market stall in the weekend at which you can purchase high quality meat, vegetable, and dairy products. These come complete with cafes at which you can indulge in the local delicacies while washing them down with your beverage of choice. In some Northern European towns they can even include a water feature - admittedly of variable quality.

However, in the dear old City, developers have shown the initiative for which they are famous, and turned a barren stretch of land behind Liverpool Street station into a community square; complete with a water feature, a croquet lawn, and a handful of pubs and bars.
And the best of this admittedly random selection of drinking venues is the local Corney & Barrow - the fine wine and beer chain that is the closest thing that the Square Mile has to 'bar royalty'.

At first glance, Corney & Barrow in Exchange Square seems to sit at odds with the rest of its brethren. For a start, the bar itself is not much bigger than a garden shed, and seems to have been designed by someone whose core competencies are in greenhouses rather then wine bars. Depending on where you are seated, your view can be the departure platforms of Liverpool Street station. Interesting for trainspotters I’m sure, but not so much for your average punter.

Yet I do the Corney & Barrow Exchange Square a disservice, as packed into this glass room with (not much of) a view, is space for up to 50 imbibers, serviced by charming and very efficient bar staff, and a nice little atmosphere. The lack of space gives the place an intimacy which is friendly rather then intrusive. And, of course, in summer the place comes into its own as City folks take advantage of the open plan concrete to quaff rosé and European lagers in the sunshine.

I often think that bars/pubs around train stations are subject to the law of diminishing returns - they deteriorate in quality the closer you get. The Corney & Barrow in Exchange Square is a notable exception to this rule, and as a result has become a regular for my motley crew of bankers. I recommend you try it.