Three Eight Four, Brixton

Type of Bar: Tiny, Industrial
Damage£
Ideal for: Small Groups, Classics

 

For the past couple of years, Brixton has taken off for some of London’s most exciting food and bars, from pop ups to permanent residences – one such resident is the Three Eight Four on 2 minutes away from the station.

A non-descript shuttered venue, 384 is crowded on a Saturday night with its industrial-chic décor. The music is oddly slow and chilled out for a venue that seems to demand something a bit more upbeat and was repeatedly distracting people on our table – the Hoodooist was pleased it wasn’t just him being weird. Nonetheless, 384 is comfortable and buzzing.

Two menus are provided, the house cocktails and the classics, coming in a large leathered, weathered tome. House cocktails are a short list, but a healthy mix of long and short drinks.

 

The star of the night: The Smoked Manhattan was an obvious first choice: Pikesville Rye, Punt e Mes, Luxardo Maraschino, stirred and smoked with cherry. The Maraschino and Punt e Mes work well to present a Perfect Manhattan, the smoke initially adding a rich mouthfeel further back on the palate before dissipating. An excellent Manhattan any fan would enjoy.

Then, the Negroni Sbagliato; Campari, Punt e Mes and sparkling red wine – was certainly Campari heavy. Though the Manhattan appealed to me more, the Sbagliato has been well executed with its bite. The classic Bramble, though still sweet, was far less thick in texture, with more of the gin coming through – a Bramble for those of us with less of a palate for sweet drinks.

The Smoked Manhattan

The Smoked Manhattan

The Cherry Bakewell Caipiroska; Luksusowa & Davna Cherry vodkas, orgeat syrup over muddled lime and sugar was an odd one – you have to keep the ingredients in mind compared to the misleading name. It starts off with the intense cherry before suddenly warping to the strongly citrus lime and orange of the orgeat, the almond of the orgeat doesn’t come through – strangely enough.

Finally, the drink of the night that didn’t quite work: The Mr. Flambastic; Blackwell’s dark & Red Leg spiced rums with Cointreau, shaked with flambéed peaches in Gran Capataz brandy. I think I was expecting a dark drink served short (think of the Detroit Bar’s Stingwray: overproof rums, fruit liqueur, flambéed red fruits, served warm), but was served a tall, ice-filled bright orange drink that was both too sickly sweet and too tart for myself, and for most present.

 

The characteristic Classics menu

The characteristic Classics menu

Food, generally excellent. You can’t go wrong with sweet potato fries/chipotle mayo. Pinchos Maruno Moroccan spiced pork skewers work a charm, as do the ‘Nduja, Ricotta and Quail’s Egg on toasted bread. Ceviche could definitely come with more fish than cucumber.

Service was excellent. No complaints here. Crowds can make delays, but not obscenely so.

Summary? Three Eight Four is a great addition to the growing Brixton environment. Food and service is great, small venue means I’d recommend a booking. Cocktail wise, they’re excellently priced, with great handling of the Classic drinks, or twisted classics. In regards to experimental drinks, they can be a hit or miss, and also really up to the taste of the drinkers. Personally, the Classics really do win out here, and are a bargain – which is what makes us want to return. A star in Brixton.

NOTE: The ‘Drinks’ score get 4 stars for the Classics and value for money. The experimental drinks would get 2 stars otherwise.

Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: ***
Service: ****

 

Three Eight Four

384 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton
London, SW9 8LF

http://www.threeeightfour.com/

Bar Americain @ Brasserie Zedel, Soho

Type of Bar: Vintage, French, Bar/Restaurant
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Classics

 

The Brasserie Zedel is so far (up until the Beaumont Hotel, coming soon) Corbin and King’s largest venture, spanning three floors: the ZL Café as you enter, below it is the Crazy Coqs, and finally the Bar Americain and Brasserie. The tiered gastronomicon is a feast for the eyes, and with good reason appeared in the top 10 of Archtectural Digest’s Most Beautiful Venues.
The Hoodooist adores the ZL café as a respite from the bustling Piccadilly Circus, and cannot resist the charm of the Francophone staff and spot-on French café interior – who needs a Eurostar ticket? Especially with the wine list which, though short, has much to offer in quality and price.
Down the stairs, you find yourself in an Art Deco paradise, faced with two very different bars: The Crazy Coqs and the Bar Americain.

The Crazy Coqs Cabaret provides a Lynchian red and monochrome setting for daily cabaret, comedy and jazz performances. Where drinks (10 pounds a pop) are concerned, we find top-shelf liquors served up in classics, suiting the nature of the bar perfectly.

ZL2
Next, getting past the dashing host of the Bar Americain: the sumptuous venue, again arrayed with the Zedel’s trademark illuminated pillars, is decorated with images of aeroplanes and Sylvain Chomet-esque sketches in a dim-lit environment. Very easy to relax in; fantastic to bring in a couple of friends, and perfect for a date.

You’re faced with classics and a short, but enterprising list of house cocktails. The selection is varied in style, from the bright and lively French Aperitif and Parisian Summer; to the deeper and darker Chrysler Cocktail and Valentino’s Revenge.

The Josephine is a spectacular accomplishment: Golden Rum, Lillet Rouge, Campari, Benedictine, bitters. The initial assault of golden sweetness sinks into the depth of the Lillet Rouge, finally brought up to distant herbal simmer to balance with the Campari and Benedictine. Smooth, and surprisingly easy to drink, the Josephine is quite possibly one of my favourite drinks here.

Lee Hyde’s expertise creates spectacular drinks, but some of the recipes in an attempt to be adventurous, overload the senses with too many ingredients, for example: the Chrysler Cocktail that has such potential, ends up confused and muddled. The Chrysler, even in theory sounds like it needs to lose something, but would then taste wonderful if it did: Cognac, Chambord, port, Campari, Orange Curacao and bitters. On the other hand, the Metropolis’ simple combination of Crémant, cherry liqueur, Orgeat, bitters and lime is a winning combination.

Not to mention, here, classics rule the roost. A whiskey Old Fashioned to knock your socks off and a Martini for days. Beautifully done.

ZL1

Finally, the Brasserie Zedel – I’m not going to spend long on this, I’ll just say that French friends quickly took to the brasserie, and it certainly is fun to see a Parisian squeal and swear happily at the sight of the menu. Prices can range between 11 pounds for Prix Fixe menus, or go crazy a la carte. The versatile prices mean a wide range of patrons, and therefore always busy. Booking in advance for a Saturday night is necessary, and pre-theatre dinners are packed. There is a selection of tables kept aside, so if you’re walking in, you might still be lucky with a small party.

 

The Bar Americain and Zedel are impeccable. The variety in what it has to offer makes it a destination all unto itself – on a night out, we struggle to stay in one venue and normally dine or drink in each one.

I’ve always expressed my fondness for Corbin and King ventures, and Zedel was actually my introduction to them. I was similarly impressed by their Fischer’s, Colbert, and Delaunay (Click HERE for review!). I excitedly look forward to the Beaumont Hotel (2014).

Drinks: ****
Atmosphere: *****
Service: ****

 

Bar Americain @ Brasserie Zedel

20 Sherwood Street
London W1F 7ED

http://www.brasseriezedel.com/