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Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Doll's House, Islington

(scarier still than talking waxwork Sharon Osbourne)

London is being sucked dry by vampires; spivs who would bury their own mother under the foundations of their designer developments if it'd secure planning permission (invariably granted by craven councils). The latest victims of this greedy builder breed are Adam and Katy - the sweet young owners of The Doll's House. Unceremoniously turfed out of their HQ to make way for more of the ticky-tacky £1.5 million + boxes that will ultimately rid Hoxton of what little edge it still retains, the couple have wasted no time in securing a new billet in the champagne-swigging socialist republic of Islington. Its bare bones still recognisable, they've titivated what was the House of Wolf - a bar that was about as entertaining as Wolf Hall, the BBC's turgid Tudor yawn. Whether Henry VIII, played unconvincingly by local-ish lad Damien Lewis, will drop in for wenching, wine and winin' the royal rump to rare groove, soul and live jazz until cock crow remains to be seen. If he does, and brings along cast member Claire Foy (aka Anne Boleyn), they'll find generously poured classics that include espresso martini and a good whisky sour. Getting off your head on old fashioneds beats the old fashioned fate that awaits poor Claire/ Anne back on set where, I can exclusively reveal, she's about to be axed. A boyhood fling with Action Man and a brief flirtation with voodoo figurines and pins before I grasped the concept of karma (apolz to you - now obese, bald, bankrupt and still looking for Mr Right! LOL), I'm not the sort of big girl's blouse that's big into Fashion Barbie. Indeed, since unwisely watching The Twilight Zone in a cockroachy New York hovel, off my tits and on my tod one night, I've been deeply dubious about all dolls' intentions. See Talky Tina in action here and tremble as she tops Telly Savalas. Clearly, that doll is no Pussycat.  Thankfully, Tina the tormentor allows me safe passage on steep stairs from the Doll's House's attic bar (the cutest of three on offer). I waltz off into the night leaving her posse to party until 4am while Sindy and Tressy bitch about how Ken is way too kool for that Botoxed plastic American tramp he's dating.
181 Upper Street N1 1RQ

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Italian Job, Chiswick

Order a machete in London's grittier faubourgs; they'll bring you a bad ass blade. But in bucolic, bourgeois Chiswick, chances are the locals will recognise Machete as the dreamy pint they sank last summer on that perfect day in Parma, whence this punchy 7.5% abv American-style IPA hails. One of the four co-owners of 'London's first Italian craft beer bar' - a dozen regularly rotated ales on tap and countless bottles from Europe's boot - is a certain Signor Campari who doubles, ironically, not as a maker of red bitters but of rather fine beers at Birrificio del Ducato, his microbrewery in Emilia-Romagna. The four raggazzi behind this interesting venture, launched with love on Valentine's Day 2015, have remodelled what used to be Pickwick's wine bar. If the new interior is Italian in style, it sure as hell wasn't put together by rococo leather bag/ designer Donatella Turtle. All bare brick and barrels, it looks like the sort of howf used for sheltering sheep in the Sienna hinterland's hills. Also worth noting, is New Morning -  Campari's bottle-fermented Belgian-style beer with its distinctive ginger, camomile, coriander and green peppercorn nose. If you're looking for beers to "blow the bloody doors off" as Charlie Croker puts it in the cult flick that inspired the bar's handle, this Italian may be just the job!
13 Devonshire Road W4 2EU

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Sky Pod, The City

Towering egotist Boris Johnson's architectural legacy will be a London skyline raped willy nilly by the filthy erections of willy-waving  'starchitects.' Could-be-anywhere skyscrapers thrown up by spivvy developers and financed by tin-pot despots from the Gulf to Guangzhou, these shameless shrines to Mammon are a depressingly familiar sight today. I don't dig Victorian pastiche. I'm no fan of mock-Georgian. I am not Prince Charles. Modern buildings per se are not my enemy: hello Hadid, Zaha; F off Farrell, Terry and take your tawdry towers with you! "But, hey! The little people will love any sub-Dubai crap outcrop as long as it comes with a cute nickname" reason the urban planners that have the ear of the mop-top Eton Mess in charge at City Hall. Today, I've scaled the 37-storey 'Walkie Talkie' (more of a 'molar implant' to my mind), a grim grey Goliath whose daft design meant the summer sun, reflected in and magnified by its concave curves, melted Mondeos parked outside. Nor is Oliver Wainwright, The Guardian's architecture critic, smitten: 'As a literal diagram of developers' greed, it provides painful proof that form follows not function but finance..poking its unwelcome bulk into the skyline from almost every possible vista." Like Kim Kardashian, only in concrete and glass, then? On the plus side, I suppose, the building's upper levels host a leafy new London belvedere; an indoor sky garden consisting of two vast banked swathes of sub-tropical foliage. Serving it, is an island cafe-bar run - like restaurants Darwin and Fenchurch on levels 36 and 37 above (both of which are blessed with more intimate bars, nota bene) - by caterers Rhubarb. In addition to those armed with bar or restaurant reservations, the aerial arboretum is open daily to the public; cue queues at the lobby level airport-style check-in. Order an £11.50 cocktail - Thyme For Tea, Chelsea Garden; or Autumn Breeze (vodka, pinot noir, falernum, beetroot and apple juices) - and the sort of snacks you'd expect of posh wedding canapĂ© slingers such as Rhubarb as you watch the tourists coo over the "Oooh, aaah, Barb-a-ra!" wraparound views . Open until 2am, Sky Pod is undeniably cool ... as in, climate- controlled to the point where wooly blankets and hot water bottles are provided gratis. Cool in the other sense? Only if you're a fan Center Parcs and crass glass carbuncles.
20 Fenchurch Street EC3M 3BY