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Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Folly, City

As its Southwark sister bar, The Refinery, didn’t exactly blow me away, my expectations of new City bar/ diner/ deli/ shop, The Folly, are low. At 500 covers, could it be folly to launch against the backdrop of ‘The Cuts? Perhaps, fingers crossed, the FTSE’s phoenix-like recovery explains why, on a bleak Tuesday night, it’s heaving with about-to-be-bonused-up middle management suits and suitesses. They lay into seafood platters and £7.50 ‘skinny’ cocktails like my Winter Negroni or Russian rose martini, at 80 Kcals, a gastric band-wearer’s prayer, answered. Arranged over two floors, this bar behemoth benefits from an intelligent lay-out, cosy seating groups, cacophony-reducing acoustics, smart use of texture and flattering lighting, pockets of gloom downstairs excepted. Mixing cute 1958 Californian motel with the sort of sub-Heals furnishings favoured by small town Come Dine With Me contestants with big city aspirations helps warm up two potentially cold, concrete hangars, although the wind whistling in through the front door needs to be sorted: one diner even wraps up in her pashmina - a pashmina, imagine! The 1990s back so soon!  Wines include much quaffable interest at sub- £20 and as well as daily specials (gurnard and linguine with pesto) dishes such as Asian(-ish) style crispy squid, boeuf bourguignon and steak sandwich from an over-extended global hits menu out-point a certain upmarket supermarket’s gourmet range, even if my bourguignon tasted more a la mode d'Oxford school run Mum than authentically Auxerre grande-mère. Says one manager, ‘What The Folly doesn’t want to be, is like one of our rivals' City venues Abacus, Agenda and Alibi.’ Happily, for the suits, it aint and if you're in the Square Mile, it would be folly not to drop in.
The Folly, 41 Gracechurch St EC3 0845 468 0102  www.thefollybar.co.uk