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Sunday, 28 February 2010

Shortwave, Bermondsey: Alice House, West Hampstead

A des res with balcony overlooking remodelled Bermondsey Square might set you back £500k plus: Small beer for a vista of a windswept plaza, a Sainsbury’s Local, a pétanque piste and new architecture that belongs in some faceless European dump - Maastricht, maybe? You do get a choice of venues for your evening kir, however: The glitzy airport-chic lounge at Alfie’s Hotel for example, or Del Aziz; a branch of a useful Moroccan-y deli/ bar/tea-room chain, it features a transparent glass floor over the excavated foundations of a medieval monastery - ‘make mine a Benedictine and brandy!’ Finally, there’s Shortwave Cinema and Café Bar - reason to toddle further south than fine gastro’, The Garrison. The actual cinema is a 50-seater arthouse cutie, its seats rescued from the old Electric in Portobello, while its jolly, red and white bar suggests a Profumo era motorway service station - still considered a glamourous proposition in 1963. We drink lager from the bottle, but the bar is set to introduce a lively list of cocktails; Cinema Paradiso?  I’m told The Alice House (pictured), new from the peeps behind Soho’s Graphic and 22 Below, has been wowing West Hampstead since it opened a few weeks ago. We rock up to find it spookily empty; perhaps my default grumpy hung-over mien combined with a volcanic eruption on my dial has sent locals scurrying off elsewhere? But with staff outnumbering punters, why such lackadaisical service? What we do eventually get is good: lychee and ginger martini and kumquat caipirinha from a cracking list of £6.50 + cocktails for date and Virgin Marys for Spotty Muldoon. Wines start at £13, burgers are fair and mezze including the intriguingly named ‘garlic rosemary deep’  boringly beige. With its well-stocked central bar, groovy lights, deconstructed interior and decked terrace, I’d have been thrilled had Alice opened up in my ‘hood...circa 1998.

Shortwave Cinema and Café Bar 10 Bermondsey Square SE1 7357 6845

The Alice House, 283 West End Lane NW6 7431 8818