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Saturday, 27 February 2010

Swan & Edgar, Marylebone

The last time the real world troubled the sleepy residential backwater abutting Marylebone Station was in 1975 when, after a shoot-out at Scott’s Mayfair restaurant and a police chase through Westminster streets, four armed IRA men burst into locals John and Sheila Matthews’ flat, taking them hostage, somewhat ironically, as they watched Kojak. Finally released after a tense six-day stand-off played out live on TV to a nation agog,  the terrified couple might have celebrated with free brandy at The Feathers. In April 2009, their former local was converted to Swan & Edgar and it seems some of the Matthews’ old neighbours have popped in tonight for a hand-pulled pint of ale. Sister to Fitzrovia’s equally dinky Bourne & Hollingsworth - both bars named after department stores still trading in 1975 - this glazed-tile fronted gem is worth searching out. There’s a literary theme; the bar fascia made entirely from old hardbacks and varnished cut-up newspapers sparingly applied throughout to interesting effect. The wine list says much about the area’s gentrification: one chap, sharp in Savile Row suiting, quaffs a £55 Meursault but pricy Burgundy aside, easy drinkers start at just £15. With cute, cheerful staff, retro cocktails and home cooked comfort food at under £10 served in an equally bijou upstairs dining room - closed, annoyingly, for a private do when I drop in -  
 this sympathetic retread is a template for the ideal Noughties local. Don’t all lay siege to it at once, however: twenty is a crowd. 
43 Linhope St. NW1 7724 6286