Eating in the outside lane


Charlotte Street, just north of Oxford Street, encapsulated cosmopolitan London in the recent sweltering heat.

There were cafés and restaurants offering pizza, steak frites, Mexican food, and Malaysian seafood alongside Thai noodles, Asian dim sum and Spanish tapas as well as numerous wine bars and pubs.

Those eating and drinking outside were doing so in a variety of different locations. Some were sitting in formal, well-constructed terraces with full-length windows open to the cool, air-conditioned dining room behind, where the tables and chairs were all on the same level. Others were at more ad hoc arrangements, where the seating was...