Friday, 28 June 2013
"I'm afraid the bar is closed for a private party tonight" says flunky guarding its doors. "Good! I'm at the right place, then. Now find me a seat, please," I say, pushing past the nose he's just looked down. Maybe my whistle doesn't cut the mustard (serves me right for even thinking about Zara's sale rail) but if I could afford Savile Row tailoring, The Churchhill Hotel wouldn't be my first choice - or even tenth choice - when it comes to blowing a wad on wasabi sake-tinis (assuming its bar can run to one). Tonight, I join bona fide members of the Churchill dynasty, here to reccie its lavish refurb - chic minky taupe low-key luxe - and to greet their most famous relative, newly appeared on the bar's smoking terrace - a windswept affair, open onto Portman Square so passing sans culottes can see how the other half lives. A dubious life-size bronze of Winston, parked up at a table, depicts the ex-PM indulging in his favourite pastimes - planning how to stick it up Herr Hitler's jackbooted jacksie, drinking like a fish, and smoking Hunters and Frankau Cuban cigars that cost more than a conscript on a Normandy beach would have earned in a week (had he not been riddled with bullets two minutes after disembarking). Yes, he died so you could enjoy a Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchill (£18.50) with your Glenfarclas 1995 (£45) or cocktails from £12 at this 5 star Hyatt. Try Trafalgar Sour (Colonel Fox’s London dry gin, pear and greengage liqueurs with apple and lemon) or Ale Flip, a 17th Century revenant that combines cream, chestnut paste, spiced rum and goose egg to interesting effect. A rum and Calvados milky mix, meanwhile, is named after 1940s French film star Jean Gabin, the sort of stylish chap,I imagine, that would have felt more at home at Claridges - my destination after I load up here on free smoked salmon and cream cheese balls here and make sniffy door whore organise transport.
Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill, 30 Portman Square W1H 7BH 7486 1255 www.london.churchill.hyatt.co.uk
The excellent Happiness Forgets notwithstanding, I'm not much drawn to drinking around Hoxton Square these days, even less so IN Hoxton Square itself, a depressing urban patch that reminds me of Manhattan's Thompson Square before the East Village style mafia sanitised the old slum. A few hundred yards to the North of once-hot Hokky Square, lies Hoxton Market whose shabby East End streets, sprinkled with edgy looking flakes, remind me of my old haunt, Golborne Road off Portobello back before the Stella McCartney classes even knew where W10 was. The way gentrification is eating up grimier postcodes, and with recession-defying property prices spiralling, how long before anybody that isn't a hedge fund f***wit or an overpaid Town Hall pen-pusher is pushed out, and Hull becomes London's latest hip hood? In the meantime, facing one another across the street, there's Hoxton White Horse and 100 Hoxton to enjoy. The old N1 nag that was Hoxton White Horse no longer looks destined for the knacker’s yard after some timely TLC. In fact, it's now looking every inch a winner, its gin jockeys cuter than My Little Pony. Pile in for wine at £20 and under, draught Meantime, a jukebox jam-packed with retro joy, Pieminster pies, board games and fun events such as speed listening (basically, speed dating with iPods and free cake) in the Horse’s soulful bluesy new whisky and rum bar downstairs, a sweet shoebox that comes on like a nightclub in a Northern mining town around circa Red Rum’s first Grand National win. As I'm on the wagon, my bar bill is as low as any I've had since Disraeli's wake - 55p for a soda and lime. Imagine! 100 Hoxton, the new colt on the block, is also worth a gamble. A baby sister to Zilouf’s on Upper Street, here’s a funky-as-you-like, no-frills, Bauhaus-inspired cocktail bar with a nice line in East-West grub. Go for mango and passionfruit caipiroska and They Came from the East (a Japanese whisky, and Chartreuse martini). Grub includes Thai cod cakes, Korean-style pan-fried duck and sago pud with fresh fruit. Japanese martinis? Korean style pan-fried duck? If they get wind of it, expect Space NK, Carluccio's and another ruddy branch of All Saints to open before you can finish your espresso.
Tuesday, 25 June 2013
114 Campden Hill Road W8 7AR 7243 8797 http://www.thewindsorcastlekensington.co.uk
Adapted from my review for www.squaremeal.co.uk
Thursday, 20 June 2013
Lardo, pizza purveyors to Hackney’s hirsute hipsters, has a got itself a summer smash in this funky 200-cover bar that's already pulling in a simpatico crowd. The only way is up for ‘a rooftop Italian beach holiday' - one that's a whole lot more fun than being pursued by the syphilitic local grease-ball out looking for his next quick roll and Rimini in Adriatic sand dunes, I imagine. Cop a load of Coppa's meaty mouthfuls: lamb and chicken skewers and spicy Calabrian ‘nduja from the BBQ. Otherwise, load up on radish celery and chickpea salad, arancini, calzone and fritte. Grab a boozy granita and, at £6, say "cin cin!" to Amaro mules and similarly tasty Milanese mouthwash. English beach huts don't do it for me. I've never seen the point of dreary days out in Dorset, with a flask full of hot chicken noodle soup for your goose bumps, while playing Five Go Mad in Mudeford, lost in some 1950s Bunty Annual make-believe. As for cu****g, cold, coastal Kent hellholes, let's not go there...literally! No, I'm more of a Mr. Ridley wannabe (minus Jude Law's final fatal scene, natch) and Coppa’s kitschy-cute cappanni (wooden huts) are a lorra fun to shack up in with up to 12 amici, your bambini, and even your Gucci poochy. You'll also find deck-chairs.... and blankets. London Fields is not Liguria, purtruppo!
Hothouse Rooftop, Martello Street E8 3QW http://www.coppalondon.co.uk
Wednesday, 19 June 2013
66 Rivington Street EC2A 3AY http://nola-london.com/
Friday, 14 June 2013
( What's the spin?)
As with first-timers at this new bar's similarly mad-monickered big sis' in the City, The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, part of the fun is fathoming how to get into the damn place. At KoLM, you'll need to apply to the lady in charge of its retro American laundromat. Washeteria? Rinses? See what they did there? But, doh! Blowing the reveal, some soap bubble-head has left the joint's fold-back door back wall wide open, allowing me to walk straight into the room directly off the street outside. Fortunately this Dot Cotton-wool-brained oversight doesn't spoil my appreciation of the gaff's hilariously kitsch interior. If Are You Being Served's Mr Humphreys had been called on to dress a set for a soft porn flick starring an Elvis impersonator, it would surely have looked like this -all pink flamingo wallpaper, Swanky Modes styling (ask your Mum!), well-thumbed copies of old Playboy mags and other cheesy Guilty Pleasures-style decor. Acres of gold lurex bring another reference to mind - that other notorious (little) Ladies Man, Jimmy Savile - but I wouldn't want to put you off your cocktail, cock. On which note, disco drinks listed in a serial shagger around town's little leather-bound black book are what to order . Revisit camp throwback, blue lagoon, and tequila sunrise - that "doesn't it look really pretty, Sue?" Abigail's Party-piece your Auntie Phyllis used to serve at her Tupperware evenings to encourage her victims to shell out on the nest of rainbow coloured injection moulded picnic containers and the crystal effect party Susan they didn't know they needed. Otherwise, you might fancy a snowball or sand in your pants, a cracking drink made with Taboo and Xante pear, lemon and prosecco. Hell, I bet the Hawaiian-shirted barman's jeans are fromTake Six, and he's doused in Denim or Hai Karate for the sake of period authenticity. Bung big Barry White's I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Baby on the eight track, and in Battersea, it's 1974 all over again.
5 Battersea Rise, SW11 https://www.facebook.com/TheKingOfLadiesMan
Thursday, 13 June 2013
Level 32, The Shard, 31 St.Thomas Street SE1 9RY www.oblixrestaurant.com