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Monday, 5 January 2015

Bar Termini, Soho

Crossrail makes me cross. So much of what I hold dear, sacrificed in the goal of getting to Hanwell or Hayes and Harlington in under half an hour. (Building a moat around London to keep out the Middlesex Massive might have been money well spent). Rampaging through the West End, this most unnecessary transport Jabberwocky is chewing up and spitting out the very bars and clubs that make (or rather, once 'made') Soho so special. Lost, the inimitably louche Black Gardenia whose door policy memorably specified "No jeans! No c***s!" Sayonara seminal gay sweatbox, Ghetto! So long, Punk! Adieu, The Astoria et al. And for what? Shiny shrines to Mammon as championed by London's myopic mayors. The newt-loving numpty and the Eton mess that ousted him have traded the capital's cultural capital for offensively bland malls where brandroids can shop for the same old shit available elsewhere. Sold to the highest bidder, Soho is being serially raped by spivs, grasping property barons who will presently be pimping more 'prime retail opportunities' as Denmark Street, aka Tin Pan Alley, the cradle of British pop music, is also razed in the name of 'progress'. Spiritually harking back to the same decade as that doomed, delightful thoroughfare's heyday, the 1950s, Bar Termini is a rare nugget amid the nauseating urban blight. Tony Conigliaro's understated new bar - his first since the similarly bijou 69 Colebrooke Row in Islington - is sheer joy for those nostalgic for the peroxide blonde, stiletto-heeled glamour of Soho circa The Krays, albeit with a classy, retro-modern edge Ronnie and Reggie would not recognise. Inspired by those chic buffet bars common to Italy's grand railway hubs ('termini'), this first class carriage, all slouchy high-backed banquette, looks the palle di cane - as I once translated 'the mutt's nuts' to a table of baffled Milanese business associates. At Tony's trad marble-topped counter, suave signori - handsome in pristine white tuxes - serve up a slice of La Dolce Vita from dawn until late. The menu is concise: (Illy) caffeine fixes and sugar rush pastries, Peroni, Prosecco, two wines, £1-a-pop panini, cheeses, tomato tartare and salumi. Any latter day Marcello and Anita will find elegantly presented drinks served with a Tony C trademark twist. His negronis include delicate rose petal, or perky pink peppercorn takes as well as a beefy Beefeater gin-based classic version. Aperol spritz (£8) is nuanced with rhubarb cordial and a soup├žon of almond blossom informs a trad Bellini. Savour the experience while it lasts. For how long before Old Compton Street's soul is sold to the Devil incarnate: fast-buck property developer filth?
7 Old Compton Street W1D 5JE http://www.bar-termini.com