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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Collection, South Kensington

The Collection holds special memories for me. In my dim and distant yoot, way BF (before Facebook), it was THE place to get off your face on free Krug. It wasn't a bar per se, rather Thatcher-baiting 80's iconoclast Katharine Hamnett's flagship shop as conceived by Lordly architect Norman Foster. Held there, the designer's parties are the stuff of legend. Accessed via a long catwalk, what fun we had pretending to be lovers/ models du jour Nik Kamen and Bond girl Talisa Soto while strutting its length with well, Nik Kamen, Talisa Soto and every other catwalk queen and hip young face as seen in The Face. Step forward Tom Dixon, then a member of white soul boy band Funkapolitan and most recently charged with redesigning the very same split-level Patrick Bateman-esque NYC warehousey space. Now in its second incarnation as a restaurant/ cocktail lounge, its new owners have chosen to retain the identity of its failed predecessor... #notsurewhy. The fashion pack have long since fled South Ken, ceding it to scions of Eurotrash and silver spoon English idiots whose trust funds can afford its stucco villas. What the Made in Chelsea/ Monte Carlo set get is Dixon's postmodern monochromatic scheme punctuated by teal flashes that keeps the focus on the bar, a long metallic sweep. It’s a handsome prospect. So too, well-balanced cocktails inspired by Chelsea’s heyday - from Quant in the 1960s, to the tail end of Malcolm and Vivienne's various incarnations of their wonky-floored World's End cutting edge clothing emporium, variously known as Sex, Seditionaries and Let It Rock.  Hence, mixes and muddles such as Ciao Tina Chow (named after the late model/ socialite/ Warholista wife of restaurateur to the stars, Mr. Chow), God Save McQueen (José Cuervo, cardamom, vanilla and pomegranate juice) and the ‘Ferry addictive’ L’Oeuf Is The Drug, a ‘glamrocktail’ that flips cognac, quince, caramel and egg white (£9.95). What inspired mind came up with such evocative names? I'd love to meet him.  Bottle service from £150 is the thing as the room morphs into a late-night club and there’s  champagne from under £10 a flute. Tapas from £4, include garlic and chilli squid, halloumi avocado and truffle, merguez, and cured beef with tomato bread. Service is sweet verging on giddy, and the under-lit undulating catwalk entrance is still there, even if the names that once walked it are strutting their stuff elsewhere.
264 Brompton Road SW3 7225 1212 www.the-collection.co.uk 

See Nik Kamen's finest 30 seconds here: http://tinyurl.com/6sog7f