Benedictine monks are renowned for their hospitality and their love of food and wine. Their Regula Magistri rule, for example, was that upon being seated, the brothers should take wine, 'then each is to dip three sops of bread in the wine.' And at the Cellarium Cafe & Terrace, located underneath the landmark Westminster Abbey, the monastic tradition of providing refreshment and nourishment to those seeking sustenance continues.
Westminster Abbey's Memorials in the North Transept. Image courtesy Westminster Abbey.
We stopped in to the Cellarium Cafe & Terrace after touring the Abbey, one of the city's most important Gothic buildings. It has been a coronation church since 1066, is the final resting place of 17 monarchs and the location of Kate and Wills' 2011 wedding.
Lunchtime offerings range from soup of the day (creamy cauliflower, on the day we visited), ham hock with parsley terrine, fillet of sea trout, fish pie with mashed potato, peas and parsley, and a rib eye steak sandwich served with grain mustard mayonnaise and onion chutney. On Sundays, roasts are served between 11am and 3.30pm for those who are seeking to fill their stomachs with something more traditional. Breakfasts and afternoon teas are also on offer. (And kids eat free, all day every day.)
The Nave window. Image courtesy Westminster Abbey.
Offering diners the opportunity to wine and dine in the 14th Century cellars where the monks used to store their own wines, bread and cheeses, Cellarium Cafe & Terrace offers a unique experience. The eatery is set over two floors, under the cellar's medieval arches, and across a contemporary terrace.
Although situated at the heart of one of London's most heavily trafficked neighbourhoods, with Buckingham Palace and the House of Commons all within walking distance, the Cellarium Cafe & Terrace thus offers a perfect space to retreat, refresh and restore after a busy spell of sightseeing.
The Cosmati Pavement. Image courtesy Westminster Abbey.