Browsing Tag

cocktail bar

Blog, Date Spot, Drink, Eat, London, Stay

Henrietta Hotel, Covent Garden

June 20, 2017
The Henrietta, Covent Garden

I’ve been to the Henrietta Hotel twice in 24 hours.  In my defence, it’s a stone’s throw from my office, so easy to get excited about.  Yesterday for drinks, today for a nosey around the rooms.  Because yes, I am a hotel geek and I do like to do things like that on my lunch break.

Founded by the Experimental Group guys (think the Experimental Cocktail Chinatown, but they also own lots of hip venues in Paris, New York & Ibiza), the Henrietta is many things.  Firstly it is a small, luxury hotel, with 18 rather beautiful rooms.  With heavy Art Deco influences and pastel colours, each room is unique, from the pretty headboards to brass lamps and mirrors in all different shapes and sizes.   Many of the bathrooms have large baths and all have fluffy branded robes and towels.

The Henrietta, Covent GardenThe Henrietta, Covent Garden

The Henrietta has also got a great bar.  Last night, post excellent dinner at Frenchie (which I would recommend to all who would fork out a casual £38 on lamb), I dragged my friend there for cocktails.  We were there long enough for the bill to be fairly substantial (be warned).  The cocktail menu is a little unusual, as I suppose you would expect from these guys.  I wasn’t sure about my Palomar cocktail (tequila based but perhaps with a touch too much salt) but the vibe was good, and I love the design of the place.  There is also a mezzanine level with another bar and more tables.

The Henrietta, Covent GardenThe Henrietta, Covent Garden

Perhaps the most talked about aspect of the Henrietta is its restaurant, with the food being by the one & only Ollie Dabbous (of Dabbous fame).  I sent my colleague there for lunch yesterday (come to think of it I really have been giving this place a lot of love) and he said the food was excellent.

The Henrietta, Covent GardenThe Henrietta, Covent Garden

And so today, having not seen any of the rooms, I popped by and was shown around.  Sadly their two suites were booked, as I would have loved to have seen the views from their terrace.  But I saw two rooms: their smallest Covent Garden room (super cosy, under the eaves of the house, not for giants) and the Henrietta room (much more spacious, fabulous bed).

The Henrietta, Covent GardenThe Henrietta, Covent Garden

All in all it’s good to see Covent Garden has a new, hip hotel, and I’m sure I’ll be stopping by regularly for food and booze, and maybe even a snooze..!

The Henrietta

14-15 Henrietta St,

London WC2E 8QH

Blog, France, Paris

Alcazar, Paris – EAT

October 10, 2016

Saint Germain de pres is one of my favourite areas in Paris.  Ever since my grandmother first took me to Paris, and we stayed there in a beautiful pied a terre, I’ve been enchanted by the area.

And so it only seemed natural to return, this time for lunch.  I’d heard via via about the Alcazar, had seen on Instagram quite how pretty it looked, and heard about its ‘epic’ brunches.  We were not going for brunch, but Saturday lunch, and we arrived having walked through the city for a solid 3 hours that morning.

Alcazar, Paris

Arriving at a beautiful restaurant, with a mouth-watering menu, and being hungry, is one of my favourite things.  The minute a basket of ridiculously good bread was placed on the table I nearly inhaled the lot.  Which was a mistake as I still had lunch to eat.  They do a great lunch deal: two courses for EUR28, which is perfect.

Alcazar, Paris

To start Gene opted for the terrine and fois gras which was heavy (as predicted) but melt in the mouth.  I had wanted to go for the burrata, but it was finished, so I tried the ceviche.  It wasn’t particularly French, I know, but it was very well done.  For mains Gene tried the duckling, with butternut squash puree and baked figs.  The duck came a little too pink, but they whisked it away without a problem and returned it perfectly cooked.  I went for salmon tataki (again, not very French!) which was the perfect light main course (though a huge portion).

Alcazar, ParisAlcazar, Paris

Apart from the food itself, the restaurant’s interiors need a little praise.  Visually it is stunning; it may be one of the most instagrammable restaurants in Paris  I love being surrounded by plants, and here it feels almost like you’re eating in a greenhouse.  But with elegant marble tables, and an extraordinary light installation.  It has two levels, the ‘balcon’ has a very cool bar and you get great views of the restaurant below.  Plus the staff are very friendly and helpful, which I still find a bit of a rarity in Paris.

Alcazar, ParisAlcazar, ParisAlcazar, ParisAlcazar, Paris

We were too full to even consider pudding, and decided to walk to the newly renovated Les Halles for a coffee at the very cool Champeaux instead.  But seriously, if you’re in Paris, make sure you reserve time (and appetite) for St Germain, you won’t regret it.

NB If you come here for dinner and looking for a place for post dinner cocktails, head to the nearby Prescription Cocktail Club.

Alcazar

62 Rue Mazarine,

75006 Paris

 

Blog, Date Spot, Drink, London

Oriole, Farringdon

August 14, 2016
Oriole, Farringdon

Unfortunately for us, we chose possibly one of the warmest, sunniest Friday early evenings for a drink at Oriole.  While everyone was basking in the London sun on heaving terraces, we were under ground (under Smithfield), very much out of the sunshine, sipping cocktails.  This is clearly a night time haunt, preferably in the winter, when you don’t feel guilty for being inside.  And while we were quietly wishing we were outside, it didn’t take away from how stunning this bar really is.

Oriole, FarringdonOriole, Farringdon

I totally adored the interiors, all green leather banquettes, leafy wall paper, with a beautiful bar.  It screams exotic, sexy, alluring.  It is the ultimate date place, and if you like jazz, then all the better but they have live music performances seven nights a week.  It is the sister property of the award-winning Nightjar bar (which is always fully booked), and it’s gone for a similar vibe.  Booking a table is highly recommended (unless it’s a 30 degree Friday evening..).

Oriole, FarringdonOriole, Farringdon

The cocktails are sublime, even if the list is somewhat overwhelming.  Divided into Old World, New World and The Orient, these are not your run of the mill cocktails.  They are concocted with thought, and care, and the result is wonderful.   I opted for the Karachi Sour (Cana Brava Rum, sweet ume paste, yellow courgette, lemon and fresh sea herbs), leaning, as always, towards a fresh and citrusy drink.  It was also served in the prettiest glass (shaped as a fish).  Rob had an ‘Anchor Steam’ beer from California, which he really enjoyed.

Oriole, FarringdonOriole, Farringdon

They also had a very good food menu, and we really enjoyed an Asian version of padron peppers, and the most moorish black truffle croquettes.

We left after a drink, in search of sunnier places, however I loved this place and will definitely return when it’s raining outside.

Oriole

East Poultry Avenue,

London Central Markets,

London, EC1A 9LH

Photo credit: Oriole

Blog, Date Spot, Drink, London

The Victorian Bath House, City of London

April 21, 2016
The Victorian Bath House, City of London

It’s not often that you find a hidden cocktail bar in a churchyard, let alone in the City of London.  But London is full of surprises, as is this new venue from Camm & Hoopers (known for Tanner & Co, and various other event spaces in the City).  If I hadn’t googled images, I would never have found this wonderful little bar.

The Victorian Bath House, City of London

Why did I like it?  Firstly, you can book a table.  Ideal.  There’s nothing worse than being turned away from a bar on a Friday night.  It is therefore the perfect date place, and great to combine with dinner at the new Pitt Cue around the corner, or ‘posh fish & chips’ at Des McDonald’s The Fish & Chip shop, or, if you get a table, fantastic Thai food at the newly opened Som Saa.  It’s all happening in and around the City these day.

The Victorian Bath House, City of London

Secondly, the interiors are quite spectacular, and unexpected.  It feels like you’ve walked into Alhambra (a slightly kitsch version perhaps!).  It’s dark and hushed, but not in a sterile way.  There’s a lot to look at – both decor and people wise.  The cocktail menu is quite unusual, with a number of quite over-complicated sounding cocktails, and lots of different versions of G&Ts.  I had the lavender and rosemary one which was delicious.

The Victorian Bath House, City of London

They also have a lovely terrace, which will be ideal for post work drinks in the summer.  I love the contrast between the Grade II listed building, and the modern, tall glass skyscrapers it is surrounded by.   You can even rent out the whole space for what would certainly be a dinner to remember.

The Victorian Bath House

7 – 8 Bishopsgate

London EC2M 3TJ

Photo credit: The Victorian Bath House

Blog, Czech Republic, Prague

Hemingway Bar, Prague – DRINK

March 19, 2016
Hemingway Bar, Prague

Prague seems to be quite good at cocktail bars, but there are a few which clearly stand out from the rest.  Hemingway is the most spoken about bar in the city, attracting tourists and locals alike.

I’m always curious to see whether the hype is justified.  It is interesting to read in reviews, for example, if you don’t have a table booked after 10pm, don’t bother coming.  This is a bar which books up completely on the weekends, and thus is only worth visiting, especially with a big group, if you’ve booked a table.

However, I broke the rules and turned up at 7pm on a Saturday without a reservation.  And without any fuss got a table.  But I was told I’d have to leave at 9pm (which was fine, as we had dinner at Sansho booked at 8).  So if you come early, getting a table shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  And actually, I think it’s most fun to sit at the bar.

Hemingway Bar, Prague

The interiors are fun, nothing too extraordinary.  But it’s cosy and especially the area around the bar is nice.  There are two bars, downstairs (where it is busiest) and upstairs (where it is quieter).  While initially disappointed to be sitting upstairs, we noticed we got served straight away, and our drinks came quickly.

Where this place really excels is in the talent behind the bar, and the standard and presentation of their cocktails. Hen ordered an ‘Eau de cocktail’ (for women), made with gin, hibiscus, verbena, cornflower cordial and lavender bitters.  The presentation was exceptional and it tasted good too.

Hemingway Bar, Prague

I put them to the test, like the annoying, high maintenance tourist that I am but but the cocktail shakers gladly took on the challenge to create a spicy, citrusy and not too sweet vodka cocktail.  They even managed to find some fresh chilli and the result was magnificent (and again, looked beautiful).  I called it ‘Golden Balls’.

Hemingway Bar, Prague

Prices are more than reasonable considering their skill, and I’d highly recommend Hemingways for a pre-dinner cocktail.

Other recommended bars are Cash Only Bar (owned by the same guys as Hemingways), L’Fleur and Black Angel.

Hemingway Bar

Karoliny Sv?tlé 279/26,

110 00 Praha 1-Staré M?sto

Amsterdam, Blog, Drink, Stay, The Netherlands

W Lounge, Amsterdam

March 19, 2016
W-Amsterdam---W-Lounge---WET

I’m not really a W Hotel girl.  Yes, they are luxurious and super comfortable hotels.  But usually they are a bit flash, a bit loud and a bit ‘trendy’ for me.  But then I went up to the W Lounge (6th floor) for the new-ish W Hotel in Amsterdam and, while the interiors aren’t really my style, I could quite happily admit that this was a very cool place to come for a drink.

W Hotel, Amsterdam

Firstly, the views.  They are quite ridiculous, especially in a city which doesn’t have much of a cityscape.  With the W Hotel’s enviable location right in the centre of town, the views are directly of the Dam Palace and Amsterdam’s beautiful centre.

Secondly, the terrace.  Yes, it’s small and I can imagine it overflowing with people in the summer months.  We came on a sunny day in December and we had the whole place to ourselves.  There is a long pool, which you can swim in (guests only) and while it’s clearly not for children’s recreational use, I can’t think of a better wake up than a few laps in the pool with the view of the palace.

W Hotel, Amsterdam

And lastly, the vibe.  While I mentioned above that I find the W Hotels a bit too loud, that doesn’t mean that they’re not fun.  And the W Lounge is certainly a lively place to be in the late afternoon and evening.  Even if you’re not outside the huge windows mean you can still enjoy the views of the city, while fireplaces and comfy sofas mean it’s a great place to visit all year round.  The ideal place for a pre-dinner cocktail.

W Hotel, Amsterdam

W Hotel Amsterdam

Spuistraat 175, 1012 VN

Photo credit: W Hotel

Blog, Cape Town, South Africa

Bree Street’s best cocktail bars, Cape Town

January 17, 2016
Bree Street, Cape Town

Bree Street has transformed over the past decade, and is now, along with Kloof Street, one of Cape Town’s hottest culinary streets.  I found the further down the street you walked (away from the Waterfront), the more restaurants, bars and cafes popped up.  They all looked super appealing, but we settled for a little stretch with a number of cocktail bars all in a row, in different coloured houses.  So cute.  It’s as hipster as Cape Town gets here.

Bree Street, Cape Town

These were my favourite bars on Bree:

DOOR 221

This tiny bar is relatively new on Bree street, and it’s where we spent most of our afternoon, sitting in the warm sun at one of their few tables on the street, watching Cape Town go by.  Their whisky sours are wonderful (and about £2 a pop), and Rob enjoyed their various beers.  Apparently they serve great tacos too.

Door 221, Cape TownDoor 221, Cape Town

GIN BAR MOTHER’S RUIN

If you’re a gin lover this is the place for you.  Serving various types of gin and tonics, with fun interiors and a friendly vibe, this is one of the most populars bars on Bree Street.

Mother's Ruin, Cape Town

ORPHANAGE COCKTAIL EMPORIUM

Annoyingly this was shut when we went (but it was the reason we discovered Door 221 and Mother’s Ruin).  This speakeasy bar apparently mixes some of the best cocktails in town.  The interiors are vintage in style, and they offer sharing platters too if you get hungry.

Orphanage Cocktail Emporium, Cape Town

In terms of restaurants, for coffee I’d recommend the Hard Pressed Cafe, for breakfast Jason Bakery (incredibly pastries) and Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room (I love the look of the interiors here), for lunch Chefs Warehouse (with a wonderful tapas menu), for dinner Bistro Bizerca (blog to follow).  For beer lovers the Brewers & Union, with a lovely outside terrace, is the place to be.

For a comprehensive list of all the incredible dining and drinking venues on Bree Street, Eat Out have written a fantastic article.

Blog, Cape Town, South Africa

The Pot Luck Club, Cape Town – EAT + DRINK

January 5, 2016
The Pot Luck Club, Cape Town

I often find the Potluck Club somewhat overshadowed by its more prominent and more famous sister restaurant, the Test Kitchen.  They sit side by side within the the Old Biscuit Mill, a complex filled with charming boutiques, restaurants and bars, in an otherwise fairly dodgy part of Cape Town.  Side by side isn’t perhaps so accurate – while the Test Kitchen is on ground level, part of the unique charm of the Potluck Club is that it is elevated, on the 6th floor of the factory tower.  This means wonderful views of Cape Town, Table Mountain and beyond.

Potluck Club, Cape Town

We came here for a cocktail before dinner at the Test Kitchen, and even if you can’t get a table booking at either of them (the Potluck club is also notoriously difficult), I would recommend coming here for a drink.  Arrive early and getting a seat at the bar shouldn’t be a problem.  For me there were three highlights:

  1. The aforementioned views (the city looks so beautiful at sunset, but also very cool in the dark) and aesthetics of the place itself.  I preferred the interiors and the setting here to the Test Kitchen.  It’s a little more casual here but still is clearly a place to come for a special occasion. It had a great buzz.
  2. The bar staff were phenomenal. So friendly, so skilled and so enthusiastic.  They gave us tasters to help us make our choices, they explained how they been through proper training courses and how much they loved working there.
  3. The cocktails. Until arriving in Cape Town I’d struggled to find a bar in South Africa which served good cocktails, even at some of the five star hotels we stayed. So I stuck to wine.  At the Potluck Club the Martini menu was so good I wanted to try a whole range of them. I struck gold with the rosemary and elderflower vodka martini, and then was recommended the thai curry martini. I was hesitant but loved it – the chilli and the lemongrass were a wonderful addition to the citrus and vodka. And the best bit?  They were no more than £2.50 a cocktail. Too good to be true.

The Pot Luck Club, Cape Town

We could have sat by the bar all evening, sipping martinis and talking about Cape Town, but had to head down to the Test Kitchen for dinner (it’s a tough life).  So this is a place I have to return to, because the food that came by looked wonderful.  And I really need to have one of their rosemary elderflower martinis again.

The Pot Luck Club, Cape Town

The Potluck Club

6, The Silo,

The Old Biscuit Mill,

373-375 Albert Rd,

Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915,

Photo credit: the Potluck Club

Argentina, Blog, Buenos Aires

Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires – DRINK

January 2, 2016

Before going to Argentina I asked a few friends who had spent a lot of time there for some tips.  I had a full schedule while in Buenos Aires (one highlight was definitely the Rojo Tango show at the fabulous Faena Hotel), but I knew I would have a few hours here and there to do some exploring.

I was sent a number of recommendations for BA, but one bar was recommended by all: Floreria Atlantico.  When I looked it up I saw it was voted 38th best bar in the world, and best bar in South America.  Curious, I went.  And loved it.

Floreria Atlantico, Buenos AiresFloreria Atlantico, BUenos Aires

If you didn’t know it was there, you’d walk straight past it.  The beauty is that it is hidden underneath a fully functioning flower shop (which is worth visiting too – absolutely stunning).  The bar contrasts hugely to the colourful shop above; its dimly lit, stark basement interiors give it an edge I love.  It is a narrow space, and the focal point is a long bar which runs the whole length of the bar, and where we grabbed two stools.  On the other side of the bar is an open kitchen, and we regretted not being able to stay for dinner, because for the food looked amazing.
Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires

I was pleased that despite my non-Latino friends recommending the bar (to be fair, they are not your standard ‘tourists’), the bar was mainly filled with locals.  I’d recommend going early (for Latino standards) because it’s a popular place and we were lucky to get a seat when we arrived at around 8ish.

Floreria Atlantico, Buenos AiresFloreria Atlantico, BUenos Aires

We enjoyed our glasses of house wine and wished we could have stayed for a cocktail, but there was more to discover of beautiful Buenos Aires…

Floreria Atlantico

Arroyo 872, Cdad.

Buenos Aires

Photo credit: Floreria Atlantico

Blog, Date Spot, Drink, London

The Vault, Soho – a hidden speakeasy-style bar

December 7, 2015
The Vault of Soho, Milroys

I used to struggle with bars in Soho, and would usually end up in China Town at places like the Experimental Cocktail Club or Opium.  Now, I suddenly feel like Soho has a whole array of watering holes, not just grimy pubs.  For those who have a sweet tooth you’ve got Basement Sate (serving cocktails and desert), if you like a themed bar you’ve got the newly opened Mr Fogg’s Tavern.  Those in favour of a Hazelnut Espresso Martini accompanied by crispy lamb testicles (!), then Les Couilles de Chien is for you.

But if you like a secret, hidden bar.  A bar behind a book case, in London’s oldest Whisky shop.  Then the Vault of Soho is your bar.  It’s a cosy, dark, intimate space and it’s in the perfect location on Greek Street.  Except tourists who don’t know about it won’t find it, which is definitely another plus.   The best bit is of course strolling into Milroy’s like you know where you’re going (but don’t) and then successfully finding ‘that’ bookcase at the back of the room.  There is something distinctly thrilling about pushing open the door and walking down the stairs into the Vault.

The Vault of Soho, Milroys

If there’s just two of you, sit by the bar.  The bar men are super friendly and can concoct whatever cocktail you fancy (I recommend their Espresso Martini).  Or if you just want a vodka, soda and lime, they’re more than happy to make that for you too.  If you get hungry then they have some bar snacks (the sharing platters are large and good value, but not particularly outstanding).   They also take table bookings if you’re in a larger group (definitely worth doing if so as there are few tables).

The Vault of Soho, Milroys

After drinks here head to Bo Drake, or 10 Greek Street for dinner (to name but a few fantastic restaurants a minute’s walk away).  And you can always pop back in afterwards.

The Vault of Soho

Milroy’s

3 Greek Street

 

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Blog, Drink, London

The Blind Pig – Soho’s slickest cocktail bar

November 7, 2015
Blind Pig, Soho

This bar is always full.  Which is impressive considering that it isn’t particularly obvious from street level that it even exists (bar the blindfolded pig door knocker).  Then again, it isn’t perhaps that surprising, since it’s part of (and above) Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House (one of my favourite restaurants in London).

Still, it’s taken me a number of years to finally have a drink here.  I’ve been turned away a couple of times (‘or you can wait for 20 – 30 minutes, madam’ – no thanks), but late one recent Saturday evening we managed to get two places by the bar.  Which is fun because you can see the cocktail shakers hard at work, and observe the mad skills they have.

Blind Pig, SohoBlind Pig, Soho

I’d admittedly had quite a few drinks already by the time we had our first cocktail here.  But damn they’re good.   I had the ‘Ginger Spice’, a vodka cocktail with ginger juice, carrot, lemon and honey (it’s funny how I still try and convince myself that adding some kind of vegetable to my drink justifies the quantity of sugar that it accompanies).  Rob had a Negroni.  We had fun chatting to one of the bar men, and I tried to persuade him to add ‘Skinny Bitch’ (vodka, soda and fresh lime) to the cocktail list (he made us the best one I’ve had).

Blind Pig, SohoBlind Pig, Soho

The Blind Pig is a dimly-lit, seductive bar, where the cocktails are inventive and delicious and where the upbeat vibe is infectious.  It is definitely worth the wait.  And if you get hungry, the delightful Social Eating House is just a flight of stairs away.

The Bling Pig

58 Poland St,

London W1F 7NS

Photo credit: The Blind Pig

Blog, Drink, London

Mr Fogg’s Tavern, Covent Garden – A Victorian Tavern with a hidden cocktail lounge

November 2, 2015
Mr Fogg's Tavern, Soho

Last Saturday I waded my way through Leicester Square crowds in the pouring rain.  There are very few places in London I loathe more than Leicester Square underground station and its direct surroundings.  That matched with streaming rain and no umbrella, is my idea of complete and utter hell.

And then we arrived – drenched – at Mr Fogg’s Tavern.  A surprisingly short soggy walk from Leicester Square.  It’s so close we nearly walked past it.  Perhaps because it also looks far more like a pub than I had expected (and very different to the original Mayfair Mr Fogg’s of Mayfairthe ‘residence’).  It truly is a tavern.  And it was heaving.  And while I loved the – Fogg style – interiors, and the boat and birdcages hanging off the ceiling, I was ready to walk out immediately when I saw how full it was.

Mr Fogg's Tavern, Soho

But I decided to give the Gin Parlour and Salon upstairs a chance, which are thankfully not advertised downstairs.  Clever.  Keep the tourists downstairs, while those in the know can retreat to a peaceful and beautiful oasis in the form of a cocktail lounge.

We were lucky.  We spent a few minutes hanging out in the Gin Parlour (a little like a chic waiting room, with a lot of beautiful bottles of gin to keep your attention), where we browsed the very elaborate and – of course – gin dominated menu in delight.  If you like G&Ts, this is your place.  From the classic to the unusual, if you want it with peppercorns, or lemongrass, or basil – or all together for that matter, there is a G&T for everyone.   And then a table (or half a table to be exact, we shared it with an adorable elderly couple) became available and we were whisked into the Salon.

Mr Fogg's Tavern, Soho

If gin isn’t your thing then Mr Fogg’s Salon has a menu with other spiritual delights.  But do be sure to check out the Gin Parlour (no seats here) and watch the clever cocktail maker slice ice off a ginormous slab of ice and concoct some delicious drinks.

Walking into the Salon is like walking straight into the Victorian times.  From the waitresses all in special dress, to so much chintz you don’t know where to look, all sorts of hats hanging from the wall/ceiling and the sorts of ornamental lamps Mary Poppins might pull out of her bag.  It was busy here too, but in a pleasant, bustling type of way.  They monitor the numbers here (you must be seated), under 21s are not allowed, and it has the sophisticated edge that downstairs lacks (which is fine, because it’s a tavern – and the pies are meant to be amazing).

Mr Fogg's Tavern, Soho

So we very much enjoyed our experience, and felt smug that we had found a table in a beautiful bar, a stone’s throw from horrific Leicester Square, on a Saturday evening.  And the nibbles are good too.  The only downside of course is that one cocktail each and some bar snacks will set you back what an all out feast at BAO will.  But it’s worth it.

If you like the sound of this, then also be sure to try out their other sister properties like Cahoots and Barts, also wonderful themed bars where they get it just right.

Mr Fogg’s Tavern 

58 St Martin’s Lane

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