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Tuesday, 15 March 2016

K Bar at The Kensington, South Kensington

It may be of London’s most desirable districts (unless Dalston is your natural home) but South Kensington is curiously low on swanky hotel lounges with sufficient clout to pull in well-heeled cosmopolitan locals. Opulently revamped, the rebranded K Bar at the SW7 flagship of Irish hoteliers, The Doyle Collection, fills the void. All honey tone woods, copper shimmer, grouse moor greens and divine art deco bronze doors - salvaged from Dublin’s GPO and riddled with bullet marks from the 1916 Easter Uprising according to one of the bar's Blarney-kissed boys' spiel - K Bar is a luxe looker, high on charm, comfort and cracking cocktails. Highlights include a Trois Rivières sweet daiquiri (£10) and a Knob Creek rye, Cherry Heering and Applejack-based tribute to the Singapore Sling. Calvados and rhubarb bitters inform K Bar’s twist on a classic Champagne Cocktail. Créme Brûlée Martini is sheer liquid sin. Order wine from £5.50 with suitably Kensington snacks from the hotel's grown-up restaurant, adjacent and, held hostage by emerald plush upholstery, stay for ‘classic or healthy’ afternoon tea served until 5pm. 
109 - 113 Queen’s Gate SW7 5LT 7589 6300

Gallery Bar at Ace Hotel, Shoreditch

OFF übercool Ace Hotel’s vlogger-magnet lobby - ‘a place to congregate, socialise, work or wind down’ (while you wait to be spotted by an Italian photographer casting the next big budget  campaign to feature Made in Londra 'real people') your inner hipster will gravitate towards its Gallery Bar; a post-nuclear cubbyhole in which to spend ‘a long afternoon of lap-topping', sipping cocktails until well past midnight and ‘noshing snacks.’ Buttermilk fried chicken burger, and crispy fried cauliflower are the sort of stomach liners to load up on before ripping into a 100-strong whisky range that ain't for wusses that buy into Davy Boy Beckham-for-hire's Haig-Club nonsense. Scandinavian, Indian, Japanese and Australian single malts and Taiwanese cask strength rarities take on the tartan army; Tomatin 30 one among  a selection of Scotland’s finest on a list that’s also big on premium gin, rum and Tequila. ‘Rogue afternoon’ drinks involve Aussie Regal Rogue vermouth served (white) with yellow Chartreuse and tonic, say, at £6.50. A seasonally evolving selection of after-dark vamps might include Sucker Punch (Bulleit, Benedictine, lemon, pineapple and kombucha tea) or Simply Red (pictured),  a Glenmorangie and balsamic strawberry old fashioned that’s decidedly more current than Mike Hucknall. And this being Ace Hotel, you're a sashay away from another ace spot with a decent bar: Hoi Polloi, David Waddington's 1950's American-style dining room that is as sleek and well put-together as Eve Marie-Saint and as camp as Cary Grant in North By Northwest.

100 Shoreditch High Street E1 6JQ 7613 9800 

Friday, 11 March 2016

The Prince Alfred, Little Venice

When its original elaborate plasterwork ceiling caved in, the historic Alfred’s Grade II listed status obliged it be painstakingly restored. Taking this misfortune as their cue, owners Young’s treated their 160-year-old working museum to a major refurbishment. This, the handsomest of pub’s former Formosa Dining Room has been transformed into a convivial haute Victorian English brasserie; its coal cellars imaginatively transformed into plushly appointed vaults for cosy private dining. Fluted iron columns; Venetian windows; frosted glass a gogo; stunning ornate tiles; a dramatic mahogany horseshoe bar; Lilliputian saloons; snob screens; dentilled cornices: there’s so much to admire at this bobby dazzler of a boozer, the food and drink almost plays second fiddle. Order Young’s and Camden ales on draught; Beavertown and Hammerton among the craft bottled beers; sloe gin negroni, Chivas sour, spritzes and old fashioneds, and familiar wine appellations from £20 - £40. Sandwiches and salads are available during the day along with sharing boards, trad bar snacks and a classic British menu that’s served until late in the evening. A typical meal might start with ham hock, wild mushroom and truffle terrine or a hearty winter soup followed by  crabmeat-encrusted salmon in a mussel broth, beef and bone marrow pie with buttered greens, or kale, squash, fig and goat’s curd and quinoa salad and sticky toffee pudding or a peach, berries and lemon and coriander meringue mess to finish. Rock up for Sunday roast but be sure to book ahead!
5A Formosa Street W9 1EE  7286 3287 

From my review for