8 Mount Street, W1 7491 7078 http://www.lechabanaislondon.com/
Saturday, 1 August 2015
8 Mount Street, W1 7491 7078 http://www.lechabanaislondon.com/
Friday, 31 July 2015
15 Mehetabel Road E9 6DU 0793 695517 cheshamarms.com/
Sunday, 7 June 2015
Being asked to list my top 10 London hotel bars is a challenge I find almost as impossible as declaring my favourite Sinatra tracks; there are just so many classics to choose from. I love hotel bars. Old and new. Odd, then, that despite The Chesterfield Hotel having been around for longer than that other old Mayfair fixture, Nancy Dell Olio, I'd never set foot in it until the other week when its PR invited me to its Gin and Tonic Experience. I'm not a massive G and T man - better Tanqueray 10, No.3 or (if I'm lucky) Beefeater Crown Jewel (a no-longer produced, rare red letter day treat) in a bone dry martini - but the Terrace Bar's table-side tasting / tutorial has to be one of London's best value deals, a steal at £22. Knowledgable staff suggest a flight of three top notch gins, picked according to the guest’s palate, each paired with its ideal tonic water and a sprinkle of its key botanicals and spices to accentuate the gin’s DNA: Martin Miller’s and Mediterranean Fever Tree, served with strawberry and crushed black pepper,one particularly harmonious marriage. Moreover, the Gin and Tonic Experience's custom-made presentation set (pictured above) is exquisite. As for the room the tasting takes place in, The Terrace Bar is the sort of place I imagine Lucky Lucan might haunt had Scotland Yard's most wanted Lord not vanished without trace on a murky November night in 1974, wanted for murder. All forest greens, froufrou swags, butch dark woods and tobacco leather and polished barmen, suave in crisp white tuxes, The Terrace Bar epitomises Establishment elegance; its style harking back to The Chesterfield's creation after WWII, when the hotel was formed from three town houses, each rich in history. Sir William Harcourt, The (Liberal) Chancellor of the Exchequer that, in 1894, introduced death duties ("boo!") was one former inhabitant, as was William IV's bit-on-the-side, the actress Dorothea Jordan, who bore him ten illegitimate sprogs in as many years; one of whom was the great-great-great-great-grandmother of the current MP for Witney - David William Donald "Call me Dave" Cameron. (Insert your own joke about Tory bastards). When the miserly monarch had the cheek to suggest a reduction in his brood mare's allowance, the exasperated luvvie handed the tight git a playbill on which her caustic scribble: 'no refunds after the rising of the curtain.' Far from fuddy-duddy, the Terrace Bar's cracking cocktail list mixes modern innovation and reasonably priced classics in equal measure. Served in a jolly yellow earthenware ‘hive’ over honeycomb ice (pictured below), the latest buzz is a summery vodka, limoncello and lavender flower sour, sweetened with honey gathered from the hotel's rooftop apiary’s 40,000 bumblebees. Snacks - crab cakes and piquant welsh rarebit (offered gratis) - are on-the-money. Silver service is slick; efficient staff super-sweet and attentive. A pianist at a baby grand plays standards. "There's A Small Hotel"....and it's just "Too Marvellous For Words" as Sinatra sang it.
35 Charles Street W1J 5EB 7491 2622 www.chesterfieldmayfair.com
Saturday, 6 June 2015
Opened in 1912 when the year's silent movies included The Conquest Of The Pole; The Musketeers Of Pig Alley; and The Water Nymph, by the 1980s, The Harlesden Picture Palace was reduced to screening blue movies - Musketeer Pigs' Poles' Conquest Of The Water Nympho's Alley among them, no doubt. Latterly, the old flea pit's fate was to host a Wetherspoon's pub. Fortunately, the curtain has fallen on that turkey and The Picture Palace can once again expect a full house in its new incarnation as funky bar, a feature attraction in up-and-coming (I'm told) Harlesden. Owners Antic - whose stable of quirky suburban socials include Deptford Job Centre, Balham Bowls and Farr’s School of Dancing in Dalston - have restored the place to something like its Edwardian prime, with a liberal sprinkle of 50s styling and fascinating film memorabilia. Set under the original balcony, lit by art nouveau crystal chandeliers, a long rosewood bar’s hand-pulls dispense Ladbroke Grove microbrewer Moncada’s Notting Hill Amber, great stuff from from Redemption and the owners’ own craft beer, The Full Monty Volden. Democratically priced wine includes the ubiquitous Picpoul de Pinet at just shy of £20. DJs play until 1.30 am at weekends when funk, jazz, ska, soul and popcorn (obscure, cult 1960s pop as played in Belgian dance-halls) are in the mix. Burgers and sandwiches will be served whilst a full kitchen is installed, planned for autumn 2015. Another silver screen star idolised by the flea pits original customers was Mary Pickford who starred in over 30 films in 1912 alone. No sign here of the classic rum and pineapple cocktail created for her when she visited the Hotel Nacional in Havana with Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks, sadly
26 Manor Park Road NW10 4JJ 8965 4410. www.harlesdenpicturepalace.com
adapted from my review for www.squaremeal.co.uk
Sunday, 31 May 2015
I have never been to Brazil. Odd, given that any native I have met has invariably been sunny delight - no more so than the fun-lovin' trannies that hung out in a club I DJ'd in Paris when the weren't floggin' their fake fannies in the Bois de Boulogne. Another salad days stint, slinging hash in Downtown Manhattan's Sounds of Brasil, left me with a taste for feijoada, caipirinhas.... and the music. To Jorge Ben, a regular performer at the NYC diner/ dancehall, I learned to bossa and samba like a carioca; although some heavy lubin' of dem done-in lower limbs will be needed should you demand a demo. While carnival in Rio, and Niemeyer's modernist architectural gem Brasilia, are on my bucket list, for now, there's this new NW1 'boteco', a sister to Camden's original Made In Brasil. With over 12,000 found in Belo Horizonte alone, the boteco is a bar where street food is usually also served. Here, lurid airbrushed street art in a series of steamy saloons, and an all-weather verandah, provide a convincing backdrop for live bands and DJs spinning samba, bossa and mod beats Brazilian. The main draw? Juicy Rio-style rinses - tropical fruit-flavoured caipirinhas, all the more rewarding when offered at £4.50 on happy hour. With over 250 different brands, the bar boasts the biggest display of cachaça in Europe, I'm told. Discover Brazil’s national spirit in martinis such as Acai Berry or Cafezhino (£7.25) Made with juniper berries, crème de violette and maraschino - Santos Dumont, named after the Brazilian flying machine inventor who astonished Parisians by looping the Eiffel Tower in 1901, is the bar's take on the Aviation. Order share platters from £15 and tuck into ‘petiscos' (tapas) such as cassava and salt beef balls, palm heart salad, peppered squid with aïoli, salt cod cakes, grilled halloumi and vegetable skewers that, fortunately, I am no longer forced to serve, to pay the rent on a cockroach-infested walk-up in Manhattan's Avenue A and 1st, a no-go, crack-fuelled, violent slum as dangerous as any Rio favela back in the day.
Thursday, 28 May 2015
Set in the bowels of its new Kentish Town branch, Joe’s Southern Kitchen's bar ‘makes the most of its history as a police station’s cells.’ A bare, bland, boring, blood-red, windowless box; hatch bar aside, ugly, backlit swing doors, the room's main feature; tinny-sounding 80s hairbrush diva pop instead of the promised Northern soul, blues and rockabilly: you reckon, guys? One staff member claims they ‘are working on the decor.’ Hmm. Work also needs to be done on a cocktail list that our perplexed waitress admits is “very girly.” Judging by joyless jam jar serve Maple Pie (Jim Beam Maple, lemon, apple juice and ‘apple pie syrup’), cloyingly sweet julep, Kentucky Cousin, and an £8.50 Bulleit ‘Bullish Negroni’ that left us distinctly bearish, the girl that inspired it is sad-arse Southern twerker, Miley Cyrus. Picklebacks, Brooklyn lager and £5 margaritas may keep some boys happy but this boy can't help thinking this soulless pit is no improvement on poitin-serving Irish speakeasy Shebeen, Jailbird's predecessor. We pass on wings, hot dogs, mac’n’cheese and pulled pork bun on the basis that the popcorn shrimp we do order has somehow morphed into chewy Chinese-style fish balls by the time it reaches us. "That is how popcorn shrimp should be" imagines our server. Yeh, and my name's Aileen Wournos! Before my inner serial killer is unleashed, we bust loose: a night in a real slammer could be no worse than my brief incarceration at Jailbird...so long as a bent bobby slipped me a bottle of JB, a bacon butty and a cashmere blanket.
300 Kentish Town Road NW5
Tuesday, 14 April 2015
27A Throgmorton Street, EC2N 2AN 3774 7654 www.demonandwise.co.uk