Look Mum No Hands! South Bank Pop-up Update

"Look mum no hands!", written on the side of the south-bank pop-up.You know it’s summer when the Look Mum No Hands! pop-up appears under Hungerford Bridge on London’s South Bank. So, on the second sunny Sunday in June, I took the train up to Waterloo, headed north to the river and then, eschewing my normal route, popped down under the bridge where Look Mum No Hands! is in its second year of operation.

Last year’s set-up was fairly impressive, but this year it’s been expanded, with a larger, more permanent seating area and a bigger caravan. This houses the espresso machine (which was in a separate trailer last time) and an array of craft beers, as well as soft drinks. There’s also cake, crisps, bananas and, new this year, the option of a ploughman’s platter.

Although I’ve termed Look Mum No Hands! a pop-up, that does it something of an injustice. With the expanded seating area and the fact it’s under the bridge, it has a pretty permanent feel to it. On all but the coldest days, treating it as a sit-down café is a viable (and, on a sunny day, a lovely) option. One downside is that the coffee is only served in takeaway cups, but you can’t have everything!

You can see what I made of it after the gallery.

  • Look down while crossing Hungerford Bridge (west side) and this is what you'll see...
  • The view when approaching along the river-side. It's the Look Mum No Hands! pop-up.
  • Back for a second year, it's bigger and better this time around.
  • What's this though? Craft beer? Not sure I like the look of this!
  • Wait... What's that? Try the other side, you say? Ah, that's better!
  • There was quite a queue when I was there... And multiple serving hatches...
  • However, don't be fooled by this one. It's not really a serving hatch.
  • This is the side of Look Mum No Hands I'm after. Coffee and cake!
  • Like last year, it's a cut-down coffee menu. No builder's tea though...
  • The new seating area: much more appealing than last year's concrete slabs!
  • The tandem racing bike highlights Look Mum No Hands cycling connections.
  • One of the new breed of recycled tables.
  • The view from my seat in a shady corner...
  • ... and the view in more detail.
  • Regular readers will know that I like a nice light-fitting... However, Look Mum No Hands can't take credit for this one...
  • ... although it did put up these two strings of lights.
  • Coffee is only served in takeaway cups, so bring your own if you can.
  • Here, Jococups, flat white in hand, surveys the Look Mum No Hands caravan.
Look down while crossing Hungerford Bridge (west side) and this is what you'll see...1 The view when approaching along the river-side. It's the Look Mum No Hands! pop-up.2 Back for a second year, it's bigger and better this time around.3 What's this though? Craft beer? Not sure I like the look of this!4 Wait... What's that? Try the other side, you say? Ah, that's better!5 There was quite a queue when I was there... And multiple serving hatches...6 However, don't be fooled by this one. It's not really a serving hatch.7 This is the side of Look Mum No Hands I'm after. Coffee and cake!8 Like last year, it's a cut-down coffee menu. No builder's tea though...9 The new seating area: much more appealing than last year's concrete slabs!10 The tandem racing bike highlights Look Mum No Hands cycling connections.11 One of the new breed of recycled tables.12 The view from my seat in a shady corner...13 ... and the view in more detail.14 Regular readers will know that I like a nice light-fitting... However, Look Mum No Hands can't take credit for this one...15 ... although it did put up these two strings of lights.16 Coffee is only served in takeaway cups, so bring your own if you can.17 Here, Jococups, flat white in hand, surveys the Look Mum No Hands caravan.18
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Although there’s good coffee to be had on the South Bank from the likes of near-neighbours Beany GreenBean About Town at the Real Food Market and Four Corners, tucked away behind Waterloo Station, the Look Mum No Hands! pop-up is a welcome addition, if only for its long opening hours.

This year’s seating area is the really impressive part. Three rows of tables extend from the caravan towards the London Eye, half of which is under the bridge, providing shade (on the sunny day I was there) and/or respite from the rain (sadly a prominent feature of the summer so far). The other half is in the (relative) open, allowing sun-lovers to enjoy glorious views across the Thames to the Houses of Parliament. The only downside is the constant rumble of trains crossing the river to and from Charing Cross station.

Although there’s a similar amount of seating to last year, this year’s is much more appealing and well laid-out. In contrast to last year’s bare concrete-slab benches and fold-up tables, this year’s set-up has a much-more eclectic mix, the tables being supplemented by wooden boards supported by legs made of stacks of three Vedett beer crates. The concrete slabs are joined by similarly-constructed stools, this time a pair of beer crates with a wooden seat on top. The seating is also well-separated from passing pedestrians by the clever use of two concrete benches, supporting an old, tandem racing bike.

This gives the set-up an even more permanent air than last year, helped by the new caravan. Whereas last year’s was no more than a store-room, with the counter a separate wooden construction out-front and with the espresso machine housed in a trailer, this year’s behemoth has enough space to house both counter and espresso machine.

There’s little change to what’s on offer, with Look Mum No Hands! (sensibly) putting as much emphasis on craft beer as coffee. While I was there, more beer was being drunk than coffee! There’s an impressive range of cakes and a slightly-expanded food offering through the introduction of a ploughman’s platter.

Once again, Look Mum No Hands! is using Square Mile’s Red Brick blend. As before, there’s a cut-down coffee menu, with just espresso, long black and flat white on offer. I had a perfectly acceptable flat white, although I felt that the Red Brick would have suited something shorter, such as a piccolo. Sadly it was so busy I got nowhere near the cake! Oh well, another time perhaps…

Having visited the pop-up in consecutive years, I finally got around to paying a visit to Look Mum No Hands! HQ on Old Street, plus the new Look Mum No Hands! on Mare Street (now sadly closed).

Don’t forget to check out my write-up of the original pop-up from last year and see what I made of it when I popped back in 2016, the pop-up seeming to have become a permanent (summer) fixture.

QUEEN’S WALK • UNDER HUNGERFORD BRIDGE • SOUTHBANK CENTRE • LONDON • SE1 8XX
www.lookmumnohands.com +44 (0) 7763 938078
Monday 10:00 – 23:00 Roaster Square Mile (espresso only)
Tuesday 10:00 – 23:00 Seating Bar (Standing), Benches and Tables
Wednesday 10:00 – 23:00 Food Cake, Hot Dogs
Thursday 10:00 – 23:00 Service Counter
Friday 10:00 – 23:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 10:00 – 23:00 Wifi N/A
Sunday 10:00 – 23:00 Power N/A
Chain Local Visits Original: 12th June 2013
Updates: 8th June 2014, 28th May 2016

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8 thoughts on “Look Mum No Hands! South Bank Pop-up Update

  1. Pingback: Look Mum No Hands South Bank Pop-up | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. A flat white but no latte or cappuccino on offer! Thanks for the heads-up though, wasn’t aware they were back in place

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