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Friday, 20 September 2013

Hoxley and Porter, Islington

'A mythical Victorian steam express from Cape to Cairo that brings together Colonial Poirot, Egyptian noir, and surrealist jungles’: that’s part of the febrile PR puff about at this new Islington ‘cocktail and dining adventure.’ Perhaps its marketing wallahs have been at its ‘whatever doesn’t kill you’ cocktail - a ‘far-flung drink’ that aims to throw you by changing colour from blue to bright purple? With its edible absinthe-coated scorpion - er, because I'm in training for I'm A  Sub-Z List Celebrity; Get Me Out Of Here? - this hoochy peculiar reminds me of drunken experimentation, when I was a student, with whatever booze was to hand. It's a candidate for my ‘Dud Drink of 2013’ award. Capable head barman Mikey Pendergast ought to be above such gimmickry. Here, his more convincing ideas, fixed by enthusiastic staff in fin de siècle attire, include Baron’s Tipple (overproof rum, lime, apricot jam and guava juice), Belize bellini, and a smooth TT Sazerac that prefers Santa Teresa rum to the New Orleans classic's rye. An off- menu Remember the Maine is indeed one to remember, but it deserves a better mise-en-scène than this Carry On Up The Congo/ intrepid explorer malarkey. What's 'fresh and unique' on a press release is déjà (trop) vu and better executed elsewhere in my book - at Mr Fogg’s in Mayfair, The Chelsea Prayer Room, or even House of Wolf just a couple of blocks north for example. Wines start at £17 and food, at pub prices, includes pig’s cheek with chorizo pea and broad beans, wild mushroom risotto with pecorino and truffle oil, buffalo mozzarella and halloumi tart, and vanilla panna cotta among the ‘fine “British” fayre. If you board an express that's steaming up Upper Street, perhaps stop off at Slim Jim's Liquor Store, Public House and 69 Colebrooke Row before alighting at Hoxley and P, old chap.

153 Upper Street N1 1RA 

Photography: Adam Beasley