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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Christopher's Martini Bar, Covent Garden


It's been a long sunny summer punctuated by spritzes and slings. But as they say in America, the spiritual home of Christopher's with its Upper East Side Manhattan-style cocktail lounge, "Never wear white shoes after Labor Day" and "Remember! Come September, real men drink martinis." Following its recent reboot, this long-running West End  fixture's American-style restaurant (on the floor above its street-level, stand-alone bar) didn’t much impress my METRO colleague, Joe Warwick. But your gin du jour martini, served bone dry with a twist  - or the likes of ‘nice pair’, espresso, or chocolate chilli and ginger martini if you prefer - make this a Covent Garden address worth revisiting. Anchored by a handsome bronze-backed bar, the smart new space is a vast improvement on the grown-tired room of yore. Here's an elegant 50's-inspired set where, scrubbing up nicely in sharp Madison Ave tailoring, Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall might come to lay the ghost of their North By Northwest cliff-hanger. While the unflappable, icy blonde (played by Eva Marie Saint) sips apricot brandy, sloe gin and kumquat fix Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant's character will get through 6 or 7 Vespers to help him come down from the ordeal he's just been put through. Popcorn shrimp, Reuben sandwich, sliders, po’ boys and similar Yankee chow are right, but the soundtrack is all wrong when I visit. Tedious Urban house is for a Hounslow boy racer's hot hatch; here, sophisticated Blue Note jazz and snappy syncopated 60s bossa nova are what's required. This bum note aside, the new look Christopher's looks good to go for another decade or so.  

18 Wellington Street, WC2E 7DD 7240 4222 http://www.christophersgrill.com