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Friday, 3 October 2014

Dandelyan, South Bank

One of the most anticipated openings of Autumn 2014; that's Ryan Chetiyawardana's new gig at the Mondrian. His second bar (following White Lyan ) is at the London incarnation of the LA hotel that garners more column inches than many of the so-called celebs that squat it. Set in the old Sea Containers building, a sister to The Sanderson and The St.Martin's Lane hotels, this shiny new beau monde magnet aims to replicate the glamour of transatlantic liner travel of yore. No, not the one that sinks under the schmaltz of Leo and Kate's ludicrous love story, silly! Think the art deco glam of the SS Normandie as reinterpreted by designer Tom Dixon. To my eyes, this pile's public areas are also in danger of capsizing...under the weight of so much beaten copper, outsized sculptures and knowing objets d'art - the brand's signature look. This is how I imagine chez The Beckhams to look; the sort of glossy tosh ol' Space Hopper-arse Kim Kardashian - a couture-clad style vacuum who has somehow convinced hitherto famously fussy fashion folk that a krass kow should be FROW - might imagine to be the height of sophistication. There's some thought provoking stuff here, to be fair. Take, for example, a statement piece in the foyer that I christen "millionaire midget's sex swing". WHY? What might a ginormous tubular arrangement in Tinky Winky blue be? A teaching model for myopic medical students hoping to find the cure for Teletubby IBS? My date, meanwhile, ponders "Matalan mound"; velours scatter cushions heaped in one corner as at a Swansea swingers party (she claims). The studiedly casual lobby staff are a study in what not to wear. Presumably sponsored by West End theatres guests might like to visit, the guys are got up as extras from Grease, the girls from Glee. Despite a dull back bar that would not look out of place in a Holiday Inn Express (in Hull), Ryan's room, with its stunning Thames-by-night backdrop, is more my bag. Again, art deco-inspired, it's all drapey-loungey luxe in damped down brights. I'm getting Jerry Hall in Halston shimmying to Love Is The Drug at Le Jardin - 'the' New York nightclub pre-Studio 54. God knows which big girl's blouse wrote Ryan's menu notes. Next time, ask me, petal! Just because his inspiration is early 20th century botanists and fruit hunters, do we really need flowery fart such as 'seasonal field guides lead you on a journey of spirit experimentation and taste amalgamation'? Fortunately, the drinks are a whole heap better than this botany bollocks. Try divine Dandelyan sour (pictured); 'concrete' Sazerac or Southbank (Bacardi Heritage Edition rum, lemon verbena, lemon, grapefruit and honey bitters, and pink salt soda). Made with botanical beer 'vermouth', Rittenhouse rye and bitters, Evil Manhattan (£12.50) is responsible for tomorrow's evil hangover. It's testament to Ryan's recipes that I get rinsed on at least ten at his launch; my screaming face ultimately more Munch than Mondrian.
Mondrian Hotel, 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD 82345 9523