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Southbank Business
Open for business down Sarf

I've always thought the Southbank was a little like that uncle who used to play in a band but never really made it. You know the sort: desperately wants to be cool but his time has passed, so instead he just mopes around reflecting on past glories and trying to mend the holes in his socks.

What should be the thriving cultural epicentre of London has never delivered, instead all we've got is an abundance of chain pubs and restaurants serving up generic tourist fodder. Sure, the new Benugo Bar & Kitchen at the BFI is a step up from the usual sarnie shack, but it's still a Benugo (albeit a glorified one).

Well, now it seems that the area's revival might finally be gaining momentum with the refreshed Royal Festival Hall taking the lead. Here, alongside the new Skylon restaurant, there's the soon-to open riverside branch of Spitalfield's excellent Canteen, as well as the members bar (which is the one that's really got our hearts a flutter), which opens its doors today.

For a bargain £45 you not only get priority booking for all RFH events but access to this classy spot on the Hall's western roof terrace, which will hopefully be filled with a very non-membersy sort of crowd.

Could Uncle Southbank be ready for a comeback? Let's hope so. If anything, the members' bar will finally give the Tate's some friendly competition.

Southbank Centre Members Bar - opens today. Belvedere Road, SE1
Full membership £45 a year

by RH
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