'Have you heard of a Bayswater bar called "Old Marys?"' asks a colleague. I have not. The name conjures up a last chan...
Friday, 20 September 2013
The Bar at Fifteen, Islington/ The City
I am not drawn to naked chefs on TV. Gordon Ramsay's fleshy pink Jelly Baby arse - now an obligatory shot on Hotel Hell for some unimaginable reason - gives me the absolute dry boak. Jamie Oliver? There's something of the uncooked Pilsbury Doughboy about the original Naked Chef, that makes me avert my gaze whenever he's on the box; and, like Ramsay, that's far too often for my liking. Last time I visited Mr Recipease's flagship restaurant - how naff is that brand name by the way, Jamie? - I was not won over by Fifteen's lame cocktail bar. This summer, Oliver's City Road pile had a major makeover but, despite being prompted on numerous occasions, I have been putting off a reccie. "Too many brand new bars to check out." Or "sorry, matey, but I'm washing my hair tonight," etc etc. En route to a launch in Islington, I finally deign to give Fifteen fifteen minutes of my time. Well, blow me, Jamie! (That's an expression of surprise, not an open invitation - supposing JO were ever to go on the turn.) The cheeky chappie's joint is proper lovely jubbly.. or some such words of his to that effect. Steering clear of the gaff turns out to have been my loss. A: it’s a handsome space - all cayenne leather and brick, butch bar and high stools. B: Gas Town, a bittersweet mescal fix, and tequila, lemon grappa and chilli margarita, Riminita, rock... and C: £5 gets big beef and barley bun with horseradish (note to Sainsbury's: please stock 'em!); Lincolnshire Poacher cheese croquettes with pickled walnut; soft boiled devilled eggs with smoky cod roe and radish; crispy fried quail and mushroom ketchup (an upmarket take on the Turkey Twizzlers Jamie has berated in the past?) and other “pukka tukka" - a catchphrase all grown-up Jamie is aiming to leave behind. The new bar at Fifteen is worth at least 17 out 20. I'd have happily stayed longer, especially as the launch I imagine will be a hottie turns out to be a damp squib. (More about that in my next post.)