I love the run up to Christmas in London. There is a certain magic about our cold and crisp city that just can’t be recreated anywhere else. Christmas lights, trips to the theatre, mulled wine and roaring fires; all of these things combine to make December one of my favourite months of the year. There is nothing better than at the end of the work day wrapping up in hundreds of layers and bracing the cold outdoors in order to make your way to a steaming pub.
In recent years another Christmas run-up treat has popped up all over London – the outdoor ice rink. A chance to channel your inner Torvill or Dean while living out romantic memories of films like Serendipity. If I shut my eyes and imagine an outdoor Christmas rink I think of beautiful backdrops such as Rockefellar Center in New York or Somerset House in London. Well last week I discovered a new one that has combined comfort food, mulled wine and ice skating to make the perfect pre-Christmas combo: Broadgate Ice Rink and Bar BBQ in the City. A pop-up venue built in the centre of a square right by Liverpool Street station, this Christmas ice rink has aimed to create an evening experience rather than focus solely on the rink itself.
Confession of the day: I used to ice skate for Great Britain. I know – it sounds ridiculous (I told my colleagues this just this week and they thought I was making some strange joke). This means usually pop-up ice rinks aren’t that fun for me. The ice is of a relatively poor quality and the spaces are either small or overcrowded compared to a usual rink. As well as this the notorious penguins cover the ice – pushable plastic monstrosities designed to help children learn to skate but used by guys who think they are hilarious. All in all for me this means the pop-up ice rink is not usually a venue of choice.
However, I had the best evening at Broadgate Ice Rink and Bar BBQ. The venue has a great bar serving deliciously spicy yet sweet mulled wine, flutes of Prosecco and craft beers. This leads on to an outdoor balcony that overlooks the rink from where you can laugh at your friends as they ‘show off’ but actually just fall over. This gives the rink a laid back fun vibe as not everyone is required to skate and if you get bored going round in small circles you can nip inside for great drinks.
The bar also serves food. So often a venue does either great food or great drinks but here the pairing is a marriage made in heaven. Smokey meats, slow cooked or marinated accompanied by Southern-style beans and slaws all ooze warmth and depth of flavour. The hamburgers were some of the best I’ve ever had – made with 100 per cent chuck steak and served in a brioche bun making it succulent and juicy while having a sweetness that accompanied the depth of meat flavour perfectly. I also tried the pulled pork – cooked on the charcoal and wood burning grill – which was intensely smokey and served in a delicious barbecue sauce that tasted fruity and spicy with added chipotle to create the perfect winter warmer of a dish.
The sides that come with these gorgeous meats were so generous – baked beans with chunks of beef shin, chilli con carne served smoked with a generous helping of sour cream and jalapeños and baked sweet potatoes served piping hot with their skins on. As I stood on the terrace and looked up at the office blocks of the city, I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather be than in this oasis of Christmas in the heart of London.
So head down to Broadgate for the ultimate winter experience – regardless of whether you’re a skater or not. Guaranteed to warm your heart as well as your stomach!
Broadgate Ice Rink
Tel: 0845 653 1424