Game of Thrones Menu at @Bird Of Smithfield, Clerkenwell

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Also optional Basement, Rooftop
The Iron Price: Three courses £30
Ideal for: FoodDate, Small Groups, Large GroupsAfter Work

 

Game of Thrones Menu available 15th – 26th August 2016

Okay, you know we love Bird of Smithfield – we’ve covered their drinks and a solid 4/5 was in order. Simple, elegant, get the job done.

And for this week only, the restaurant unveils a dedicated set menu (horse hearts and incest not included) celebrating the Game of Thrones fandom – or at least staving off GoT deprivation during the hiatus!

The menu appeals to the theme of the series while maintaining the approachable simplicity of British fare – and in BoS tradition, managing to amp up the everyday to a meal worth travelling for.

Bird of Smithfield Game of Thrones

Okay. This is gorgeous.

The Dracarys Salad felt like bit of a crime to eat, really.

Marbled quail eggs nested on salad with bacon lardons presented beautifully on a noodle nest. The eggs just perfectly runny and shimmering in the streaming light, and crisp of bacon for that little Dothraki touch.

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Then, what is a party in Westeros without a pie (and several casualties)?

Joffrey’s Wedding Pie is suitably hearty and incredibly filling: Chicken , quail and leeks spill from the pie, sizzling. Once the quail stabbing through the pie is dealt with, the perfectly crisp and flaky pastry is broken through to the chicken underneath.

Bird of Smithfield Game of Thrones

Finally, the meal ends with the Ice and Fire, a vanilla Baked Alaska comes with Wildfire!

Green Chartreuse is spilled around the dessert to be set alight – keep your vial of Wildfire to drink as a digestif after.

The vanilla gelato encased the the cake might be slightly firmer than we’d like, but the browned meringue is just right, and spiced up with the Chartreuse for just a little bit of kick for a twist.

Bird of Smithfield Game of Thrones

 

Bird of Smithfield manages to chic up most Game of Thrones/ASoIaF themed meals and keeping the simplicity of British fare – and all for a modest price. Highly recommended for the GoT fan – and certainly on Friday night to welcome the Night Tube as you saunter away from your Westerosi dining at midnight.

(Look out for our Night Tube launch party recommendations tomorrow!)

Game of Thrones menu only till Friday 26th August 2016! To book, call 0207 559 5100

 

Bird of Smithfield

26 Smithfield St, Clerkenwell
London EC1A 9LB

http://birdofsmithfield.com/

Bird of Smithfield, Clerkenwell

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Also optional Basement
Damage££ 
Ideal for: FoodDate, Small Groups, Large GroupsAfter Work

 

Here on Highball Hoodoo we had already reviewed this summer’s Aperol Spritz Terrazza open on the roof terrace of Bird of Smithfield – but it hides so much more.

A comfy restaurant and bar on the ground floor, with the private-bookings Birdcage in the basement serve up some cocktails that rival the best of Clerkenwell.

The ground floor bar is perfect for the day time – bright eggshells and greys with scattered kitsch and 70s throwbacks make a great space for an afternoon hang out or meeting. The Birdcage downstairs, though, takes the lighting down a notch for a sexy charcoal and cerulean, lit by mirrors and illuminated trees and birdcages.

Bartenders are wonderful, service is swift, and servers are more than happy to discuss the cocktail with you.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

The new cocktail menu launched earlier this year appeals to a variety of palates and flavours, and does not shy from a little bit of experimentation.

Beginning with the Cointreauversial: Cointreau, Remy Martin VSOP cognac, apricot brandy, lime, Angostura bitters. The first wash is the rich and floral cognac, with strong notes of apricot and nectarine, violet and vanilla, giving way to the Cointreau’s orange and a stronger citrus, finally becoming quite tart.

A great option for those enjoying citrus and floral flavours, but want something a bit rich and not served long or with ice.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

The Mr. Pacifico – I do love this cocktail: Mezcal, Pisco, blackberry and blueberry shrub, cardamom bitters, chilli vermouth, and Fernet Branca. Pisco ain’t easy to use in a cocktail – but this smoky/spicy tipple is just what you need when you want a bit of bite with your fruity sour/sweet.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

The Lucky One is another that defies convention. Tincup Whiskey, Flaming Pig liqueur, Negra Modelo ale syrup, ginger bitters, lemon, Angostura bitters, egg white. The ale syrup really mellows out the other powerful flavours we see here: the cinnamon sweetness of the Flaming Pig, the butterscotch and high rye spice of the Tincup and ginger bitters. So what we get is an easy to down, grain-strong spicy tankard. Love it.

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The Lucky One

The LDN: BOLD London Cherry Spirit, Aperol, Cynar, orange & mandarin bitters, rhubarb bitters. BOLD does it again! Aperol dominates, but enjoys complexity added by the bittersweet Cynar and the sweetness of BOLD cherry. The citrus bitters are more noted here, adding an almost sparkling flicker in the cocktail.

Aperol Spritzes are well and good, but the LDN does not compromise on ABV and celebrates Aperol in way only London could.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

The LDN

The Lord of Isles is another favourite here: Botanist gin, rhubarb and thyme syrup, Cynar, Kummel, and lime. Served for two, smoking inside a treasure chest, the box is opened to unveil two small cocktails in tiki glasses.

Not a sweet cocktail, but bright and herbal, with added depth from the Cynar. You’d almost forget it was gin. Warm and citrus with spice from the Botanist leads to the Kummel’s light aniseed flavour, but not compromising on it’s coating mouthfeel – finally enjoying a bit of sweetness from the rhubarb and thyme and then settling on the depth of Cynar, with a Kummel finish.

An enigmatic and adventurous cocktail. Loved around the table.

 

Not Just a Dram: Bruichladdich whisky, Lapsang souchong tea, lime juice, yellow chartreuse, sage leaves, plum and cardamom bitters.

I was hoping this would be a short, smoky cocktail – however the Not Just a Dram is served similar to a Julep, tall and filled with crushed ice.

I’d really like to return to try this straight up in a coupe, to really enjoy the whisky and tea. The brightness of the Bruichladdich is meant to be contrasted against the smoky lapsang, but I couldn’t get much with the ice here. Tasted a wee bit watered down, I’m afraid. Considering I absolutely *love* the sound of these ingredients together!

Definitely returning for this.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

The Not Just A Dram

The Kenko Cha goes East by adding pineapple-infused Tanqueray gin to Canton ginger liqueur, Matcha, grapefruit, lime, sugar and egg white.

This was one cocktail I didn’t quite take to, but to be fair, I do have a slight aversion to strong pineapple flavours. And man was it strong here. I couldn’t help but feel it drowned out the others, and so missed the potential.

Bird of Smithfield London Cocktail bar

All in all: I love this bar. Wonderful service coupled with a large variety of cocktail flavours and various levels from the basement to terrace for different events make this bar a winner. Bird of Smithfield is a must when in Clerkenwell.

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


Bird of Smithfield

26 Smithfield St, Clerkenwell
London EC1A 9LB

http://birdofsmithfield.com/

MASH Steak 2016, Soho

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Basement
Damage££ – £££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Large Groups, Steak, Originality

 

Ah, MASH. The Danish-American steak venture is bound to have a surge in bar visitors with the introduction of their new menu, taking on more international influences.

MASH’s enormous Lynchian red and black pseudo-Deco décor retains that element of American-but-not-quite, and I must still recommend seating right up at the bar for the best lighting and experience with the wonderful bartenders and service offered (the service, as always, was impeccable. It’s one of MASH’s greatest strengths – shout out to bartender Steve!). This is, of course, if you are coming for the bar and not for the meal, in which case there is the gargantuan restaurant and red booths that are open to you. However, one must recommend the bar snacks, especially the MASH tartare and chilli fries; as well as the jalapeno cheese balls.

 

So the cocktails! We provided a review of their glorious 2015 cocktail list, and look forward to covering this year’s!

Though the new menu is meant to evoke a USA Frontier to Prohibition era apothecary, one will see inspirations from Scandinavia, Central Europe and Italy. And though it has kept a small handful of drinks from the old menu, MASH has developed a large and innovative new selection. Often working with spirit companies to help create bespoke glassware for their drinks; personally, the glassware can be a highlight of the drinking experience here.

Though we went through the entire new menu, let us cover the ones that stand out here today.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

Because why not.

If you wanna start with a winner – remember the name: Sunshine State Fix. A desserty digestivo, the cocktail mixes Bacardi 8 Rum, pistachio liqueur, lemon juice, orgeat, egg white and chocolate bitters.

A cocktail take on gelato, if anything, the sweetness of Sicilian pistachios (and we all know how the Hoodooist loves Sicilian pistachios) blends wonderfully with the rum, and the finish wafts in with hints of almond and citrus.

Rarely does the Hoodooist enjoy a dessert, particularly one with chocolate bitters, but my word. The Sunshine State Fix is exquisite.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The Binchotan

The Binchotan uses a stick of white Japanese charcoal to filter and mellow the normally sharp flavours of Bulleit Rye, with Slovakian Tatra Tea Coconut, cardamom bitters and sugar.

An improvement on the ingredients of the Binchotan of 2015’s menu – the Hoodooist might love Cynar from the old recipe, but the new concoction is a major improvement.

The technique used to mellow the rye though, also mellows out the rest of the flavours, but not to the extent as last year’s Binchotan, where the flavours muddled together. The Tatra tea is much stronger, turning what used to be a Bourbon Old Fashioned to a spiced, silky (though slightly syrupy) sweetened Rye cocktail for adults.

I like the slow melting ice, but not when the ice is taller than the glass, making it an interference to drink. Your index finger is necessary here.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The Mexican Smuggler

Now here is a star. A hit with the Hoodooist and friends, the Mexican Smuggler mixes Casco Viejo Blanco tequila, Del Maguey Vida mezcal, basil and Szechuan pepper sugar, lime, MASH Pilsner, garnished with Serrano ham crisp.

Okay. Hear me out. I actually enjoyed a beer cocktail.

I know I told off House of Peroni for making me lose faith in beer cocktails, but MASH has helped me reconsider. The light and slightly tart drink almost plays the part of citrus to pair with the peppery and herbal tequila, and the wonderfully smoky mezcal.

A long finish allows you to enjoy the spices of the mezcal, ginger and cinnamon, which burst to life with a bite of the Serrano ham. Drink this.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

Steve and the One of This!

You might have questions for the One of This. This is one hell of a complex cocktail which even left the Hoodooist quizzical.

Powerfully herbal and minty Fernet Branca meets Disaronna amaretto, lemon, sugar, peach bitters and maraschino with egg white – served with wonderfully nostalgic fizzy sweets.

My recommendation with this cocktail is for it to be shaken longer with smaller ice cubes, because over time, the flavours blended and harmonised wonderfully. Maraschino cherried, the initial fruity sweetness is followed by a tart and herbal hit to sides of the tongue, and gentian root quinine depth that fizzes to the surface with the lighter fruit flavours once again.

Bit of a rollercoaster, in the best of ways. Certainly an acquired taste, for the adventurous palate.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The BLT

Okay so, I love Becherovka. I don’t understand why more bartenders don’t use it, because this Czech spirit deserves a more notable place in the back bar.

The BLT is one odd but beautiful drink. Heir to last year’s fabulous Yosemite cocktail, this simpler drink mixes the bitter spirit with tonic reduction and sparkling wine for a true Prohibition era revivifier.

The spices don’t play as strong a part as they did in last year’s Yosemite, instead what we get is the crisp bitter Becherovka dancing and swirling with the herbal quinine of the tonic reduction and the sweetness of the sparkling wine and sugar rim for a bright, sparkling, daytime aperitif. Absolutely adore the simplicity of the BLT because have not had enough of the gin and tonic?!

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The Konik’s Whisperer

Brought in by the absolutely wonderful ambassador of Konik’s Tail Vodka, the Konik’s Whisperer is popularised by ambassador Swanand Korgaonkar.

The cocktail is named after the Berkeley and American Bar alum, nicknamed the Konik’s Whisperer because goddamn can this man sell a drink. Konik’s Tail Vodka meets Vya Dry Vermouth, cardamom bitters and a twist of lemon. Powerfully dry, this cocktail explores the various complex flavours of this award-winning vodka.

Though I find that this cocktail focuses far more on the vermouth’s flavours, with cardamom ruling the roost. If you like your Vodka Martinis smooth and sleek, this is not your drink. The Konik’s Whisperer is a violent plunge into a swirl of flavours.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

L – R: The Danish Crown, and Persephone’s Seed.

The above drinks are stars, this one is a bit confusing: we have the  the Danish Crown.

 

The Danish Crown is impressive and unique, but slinks to the side of bizarre: Fat washed Geneivre, Lillet Rouge vermouth, chocolate bitters, creme de cassis, and lemon.

Fried chicken. I love fried chicken. I’m not sure about drinking a sweetened liquid friend chicken though.

I mean I still drank it, but its that feeling you get after watching an episode of Geordie Shore. Like, do I need a shower? Or 50 Hail Marys? I’d probably still drink it is someone bought it for me, though. Because fried chicken. I’m so confused.

MASH Soho London Cocktail Bar

The fabulous Swanand shaking those Daiquiris

The NYC Calling is not a bad drink, but has so many ingredients it misses the point. Hudson Four Grain bourbon, Bacardi 8 rum, Martini Gran Lusso vermouth, creme de cafe, maple, sea salt solution, and Angostura bitters.

I do enjoy the hit of sea salt in the cocktail, but this sweet drink on the rocks can be easily replicated with an Anejo Rum Old Fashioned and a sprinkle of sea salt with far fewer ingredients.

 

Finally, the For Him is the one drink we didn’t actually like at all.

I’d avoid it altogether. First of all, it is part of a pair – the For Her/For Him. My peated whisky swigging female pal and I glanced at each other with the ‘sweeter For Her’ and the ‘bitter For Him’. Who doesn’t love casual and unnecessary gendering of alcohol.

The cocktail itself is Zacapa rum, pear liqueur, pear eau d’vie, chocolate bitters, Mozart chocolate liqueur, with sea salt solution.

I hate to say it, but this doesn’t work.

But I’d like to remind the reader that this is in comparison to the wonderful, fabulous winners that are the Sunshine State Fix, the Binchotan, Mexican Smuggler, BLT, One of This, and the rest of those incredible drinks on the MASH 2016 menu!

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All in all? What an exciting menu! Though less experimental and sensual than 2015’s menu, it is still full of originality. Coupled with their incredible service, MASH is still up the list for innovative cocktails in London, and easily one of my most favoured places in Soho.

 

Drinks: **** 
Atmosphere: *** on seats, ***** at bar
Service: *****

 

MASH Steak

77 Brewer Street,
London,W1F 9ZN.

http://www.mashsteak.co.uk/

Palm Club Pop Up, Dalston

Type of Bar: Pop Up, Local, Tiki
Damage£
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups 

Beachy cocktails, Kona Beer, and Tiki vibes is what’s promised at Dalton’s latest pop up bar!

Palm Club Dalston Pop Up Cocktail Bar London

A 10 second walk from Dalston Kingsland station, Palm Club Dalston will be serving up cocktails and a chilled out, funky atmosphere with your wonderful hosts Kelly and Bethan!

A design that is somehow Hawaii meets Berlin, the home-crafted venue is perfectly for lying back and chilling out with the selection of cocktails on menu.

Palm Club Dalston Pop Up Cocktail Bar London

The Kon-Tea-Ki!

The Kon-Tea-Ki mixes dark rum, cold brewed lapsang souchong tea with lemon, served on the rocks. A long citrusy cocktail with rum spice is balanced against the depth and warmth of the tea. A wonderful cocktail on its own, the Hoodooist would have preferred a little less lemon – but that is just a personal thought, since the cocktail does the job as is.

Palm Club Dalston Pop Up Cocktail Bar London

The rest of menu does lean more to the sweeter tooth.

Next we have a classic Mai Tai: Dark and white rum, orgeat, triple sec, lime and pineapple. We all know our Mai Tai’s marzipan sweetness with citrus zing and tropical pineapple for those moments we need to forget the bustle of the big smoke.

The rest of the menu serves up a Pina Colada, Frozen Watermelon Margarita, and a double G&T.

The Palm Club pop up is a fun stop to pop by next you’re in Dalston – whether for one of their workshops (like learning how to make rings!) or just to chill, or even enjoy their sparkler studded birthday cocktail. Stop by and say hi!

Palm Club is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening from 6.30pm – late until the 2nd July 2016. That’s 4 more weekends to lap up some tropical vibes!

 

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

Palm Club Dalston

14 Bradbury Street, Dalston
London N16 8JN

http://www.palmclub.co.uk/

The Aperol Spritz Terrazza @Bird of Smithfield, Clerkenwell

Aperol Spritz Terrazza Summer Cocktails Bird of Smithfield Clerkenwell London

Isn’t it about time we got some summer?!

With the sudden blessed heat, Bird of Smithfield welcomes you to their summer pop up: The Aperol Spritz Terrazza!

Working with the Italian bitter aperitivo, the Terrazza serves up the perfect summer drink of the season: The Aperol Spritz.

So simple you could make it blindfolded, the three simple steps of 2 measures Aperol, three parts prosecco, and dash of soda over ice.

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A bright, refreshing cocktail with a hint of tartness and slight bitterness for intrigue, there really isn’t a better way to welcome the weather turning.

The gorgeous orange terrace boasts a bar hosted by the wonderful Stan of Bird of Smithfield, all round seating under jasmine and oranges, perfect for a summer evening as you celebrate aperitivo hour from 5-7PM with provided small plates.

The terrace will also be hosting a variety of events through the weeks, the Aperol Spritz Socials give you and opportunity to create your own wall art with Print Club London, your own radio show with Soho Radio, and help yourselves to a supperclub with Forza Win!

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Course, if you’d rather go back indoors, take advantage of the GIF photobooth to share (#ItStartsNow!) your summertime Aperol Spritz moments!

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Running 6 days a week till the 31st of August, the Aperol Spritz Terrazza of Bird of Smithfield provides excellent drinks, events and a wonderful space to celebrate the summer that’s finally here
#ItStartsNow!

Aperol Spritz Terrazza Summer Cocktails Bird of Smithfield Clerkenwell London

The Aperol Spritz Terrazza 

Bird of Smithfield, Clerkenwell
26 Smithfield St, London EC1A 9LB

http://www.aperolspritzsocials.com/

Apples & Pears, Whitechapel

Type of Bar: Live Music, Local
Damage££
Ideal for: DateSmall Groups, CARTOONS

Okay, Apples and Pears wins point for atmosphere: after admiring the artwork, the Hoodooist and co just became drunkenly absorbed into the classic Tom & Jerry and Merrie Melodies cartoons on the big screen. Because why the hell not.

And if that brilliant perk didn’t win you over, this dim lit local’s vibe is powered by its wide range of beats and live acoustic sessions through the week.

And as Rory serenaded us, we decided to tackle some of the newest menu!

 

apples and pears london bar shoreditch cocktails

The Buttered Pop-Fashioned

The Buttered Pop-Fashioned finds Buttered Popcorn Infused Knob Creek mixed in with maple syrup, sea salt, and Amargo Chuncho bitters for a sweet twist on the classic.

This was….curious. Served with a side of popcorn, which I hoped would balance the flavours a bit, we found that the wonderful array of flavours were drowned out by the screaming maple syrup.

Only in the distance could a vague flavour of sea salt or the warm spices of Amargo Chuncho be heard. After a third of the glass, the drink was entirely too sweet and syrupy to finish. A nice kick from the whiskey was one perk.

 

apples and pears london bar shoreditch cocktails

The Tincup Rocky

Using the perfect-for-a-Pickleback Tincup whiskey, the Tincup Rocky mixes in fig liqueur, lemon and black pepper sherbet, cloudy lemonade, and bitters.

An interesting combo of flavours that all have a part to play, but one disappointment here: If you didn’t tell me what spirit was in here – I’d never know. I always imagine cocktails to ride on the flavour of the spirit, for the alcohol to do the heavy lifting. But here, it’s spicy lemonade with what could be anything, vodka, light rum, who knows.

Personally, with the enthusiasm Apples and Pears has for Boilermakers, I’d like to see a unique whiskey like Tincup used for something like a Pickleback or other American style whiskey classics.

But don’t worry, it gets better here on out!

apples and pears london bar shoreditch cocktails

L-R: The New Spanish Sour, and the Cool Kyuriosity

Now we’re cooking with gas!

The New Spanish Sour and Cool Kyuriosity highlight the potential of Apples and Pears, and hopefully signals the line the bar’s cocktail style will follow in future.

The Cool Kyuriosity is something the Hoodooist wouldn’t have tried if a friend hadn’t ordered it – yes, there is hope for Midori yet.

Square One Cucumber vodka, Midori, cucumber, wasabi syrup, lime, and celery bitters – garnished with honeydew melon drizzled with sesame, creates a smooth, cool cocktail perfect for summer.

After a hit of the Midori, the cucumber sashays in, ending with citrus and a delicate, effervescent burn to the throat with the wasabi. A real step up from the last two cocktails.

 

The New Spanish Sour is modern, sexy, and puts a real fire in the belly. It’s Bizet in a glass. Bruxo No.1 Mezcal simmers with Ancho Reyes liqueur, Rubis Chocolate red wine, lime, and chilli bitters.

The cocoa port settles to the bottom of the glass, to be stirred up with your provided chilli, if you so wish. The powerfully smoky Bruxo No.1 with its pepper and cinnamon finish dominate the drink, anchored by the sweet port, and the Ancho Reyes with its tamarind and dark fruit flavours that provide such depth.

Here, we have a winner.


This laid back bar is confident, and has shown real promise for a developing cocktail list – if it is willing to itself have more confidence in the spirits used, and less on miscellany. A fun atmosphere, beautiful music, a unique style, and the wonderful Kim and bartenders running the show means this is a fab spot for a one-on-one with some live tunes.

Pick your drinks with your gut, keep an eye out to make sure the ingredients don’t swing too far from the spirit base, so you know you’ve got yourself a cocky cocktail – one that this spirited little venue deserves.

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

Apples and Pears

26 Osborn St, Whitechapel
London E1 6TD

http://www.applesandpearsbar.com/

Farang pop up @ The Lodge, Clapham

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Thai, Pop Up
Damage£ – ££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Food

Working together at the Brook Green Farmer’s Market in West London, Seb Holmes of The Begging Bowl and Smoking Goat fame, and Tomas Lenko, mastermind behind the impossibly popular Bold London Spirit, have set up a three night pop up at The Lodge Clapham!

With Seb at the grill and Tomas behind the bar, Farang brings Thai street food with a greater focus on seasonal ingredients, at all their pop-ups, supperclubs, and street markets. The modestly sized venue at The Lodge also hosts a private dining space upstairs which seats groups of 10-12, with its own personal balcony looking over Clapham North.

Let’s have a look at the cocktails!

Farang London Thai pop up cocktails food restaurant

A favourite of bars like the Sun Tavern, and Discount Suit Co., Bold London Spirit is not to be confused with a cherry liqueur! At a solid 36% ABV, this all-natural cherry aperitif mixes 15 botanicals including sour cherries, juniper berries and cassia bark for a spicy bitter spirit that is lightly sweet and floral, adding a fun twist to cocktails that demand Maraschino or more warming flavours.

Tomas explains that the cocktail menu for Farang veers toward the sweeter side to contrast with the punchy, spicier flavours of the dishes.

Beginning with an amuse bouche of sorts: a short citrusy shot of Bold with gojiberry, and plum bitters, we order our aperitifs.

Unlikely for an aperitif, the Smoked Thai Ice Tea mixes lapsang souchong tea, Bold spirit, cherry reduction, fresh lemon juice, layered with coconut milk. Served long, this cocktail is served beautifully – so do allow yourself a little cry when you realise that you have to stir the drink to mix the coconut milk with the drink.

A starter milkshake of sorts, the cocktail is sweet and velvety with the light milk. Like many of the cocktails on the menu, is granted a smoky profile thanks to the lapsang souchong, which lingers in the background as the cherry and cassia dominate the cocktail.

It’s been a while since the Hoodooist enjoyed a sweeter drink, and this was it!

Farang London Thai pop up cocktails food restaurant

The Smoked Thai Ice Tea!

The Toasted Coconut Negroni is for the crowd with less of a sweet tooth: brings together Bold spirit, campari, toasted coconut infused gin. This deep, dark cocktail has some serious swagger, a quick bright wash of Campari is immediately followed by the cherry, and finally – a powerful hit of sweet and smoky coconut, with a trail of juniper to follow.

You want to let this one smoke in its bottle for a bit before pouring it, and don’t take your time with it either. Letting it sit sends the flavours haywire. Enjoy promptly while making your order.

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The Toasted Coconut Negroni

Finally, the Ong-Bak: Barrel-aged Bold spirit stirred with SangSom rum, wolfberries and aromatic bitters. I have to admit, I struggled with this one – not to say it was a bad drink, no – it was kind of a rollercoaster of flavours here. If you’re looking for something more bitter, aromatic, and dry, you found your drink!

Farang London Thai pop up cocktails food restaurant

Farang’s brief food menu aims at sharing plates where you dig in and get messy, and comes in small and large portions. Not knowing what to expect, the pair of us went for two large and two small plates and found ourselves with entirely too much to eat – yet still ended up demolishing most of the food, wracked with guilt with not being about to devour all of it.

Beginning with the small (but still sizable) plates of Crispy Vegetable Wontons with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce, and Tempura Vegetables and Burnt Chilli Dipping Sauce – both dishes are simple and elegant.

The wontons being among the better I’ve experienced. No unnecessary parcelling here – there is only as much wrapper that is absolutely needed, leaving more to the spiced herbs and vegetables inside. The tempura vegetables come with betel leaves, lightly curried, and served with an exquisite smoked grilled  chilli sauce I wish I always had on me!

 

Farang London Thai pop up cocktails food restaurant

Gola Chicken Satay in banana leaves

For our large plates we began with the Nham Prik Ong with Asian Vegetables and Grilled Sardines – out of sardines, a large grilled mackerel accompanied the Nham Prik Ong: a rich minced pork and tomato relish with dried soy bean, raw vegetables, and East Asian herbs. Deciding to just go in for the kill by using the vegetables or salted turmeric butter roti to scoop up the mince – much less stressful than picking through the mackerel’s bones in the then-dim light of the restaurant.

 

Finally, the Half a Free-Range Baby Gola Chicken cooked in Banana Leaves – as much as I dislike the word, ‘succulent’ is really the best description here. This is pretty damn sizable for half a baby chicken.

Tender and so juicy, the banana leaves are unwrapped to reveal the chicken steaming and sauced with peanuts, with powerful flavours of traditional ginger and garlic, coconut, sweet basil, and cumin. For someone who normally steers clear of chicken, ordering the Gola Chicken was a decision I’m glad we made.

Farang London Thai pop up cocktails food restaurant

“Farang is open at the lodge this Monday 18th and the following 25th from 5:30-10:00, and though it’s looking busy so far for these weeks, there might still availability for both, bookings via info@faranglondon.co.uk.
After this, Farang is doing its next San Daniele del Friuli supper club in Highbury at 15:00 on May 2nd, with the menu launching this week, it will be including dishes such as curried sharing crab and green tea, pandan and condensed milk ice cream with banana fritters. Farang will also celebrating A late Thai new year at this event with a selection of wines from Thai wine producers Monsoon Valley. Bookings for this are also open now via info@faranglondon.co.uk !”

Basically: Grab a seat if you can get one.

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

 

Farang @ The Lodge
18th and 25th April

409 Clapham Rd, Clapham North
London SW9 9BT

http://www.faranglondon.co.uk/
http://www.boldspiritslondon.com/

The Light Lounge, Chinatown

Type of Bar: Lounge, LGBTQ
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups

After writing about the closure of many LGBTQ venues in London, the Hoodooist was rather pleased to hear that the recently opened Light Lounge by award-winning Ku Bar was going strong and released a new line of cocktails for SS16 down in Chinatown!

Light Lounge Chinatown gay bar Ku London cocktails

Design-wise, the bar is going *very* lounge with dark walls, mirrors, dim lighting. Certainly comfortable, though a small space. Ambience is chilled out and relaxed as lounge music is played even on DJ nights.
However, I can’t help but feel that it feels ever so slightly dated, though not offensively so yet. Especially with the retro noughties chic (is it time we can call it retro yet?) blue lights/low couch combo making it a bit samey with many gay bars in Soho.

Marie provided swift, courteous service with Nikita and Peter behind the ba; watched over by portraits of Marlene and Bowie.

Light Lounge Chinatown gay bar Ku London cocktails

The menu focuses less on classics, and on sweeter cocktails – the Hoodooist went for something more his style.

A classic Boulevardier can’t stir you wrong. Bulleit bourbon, Campari, Martini Rosso sweet vermouth provide a Boulevardier that’s slightly on the sweeter side.

Still, a fairly decent classic – however, £10.50 is pretty darn steep for a Boulevardier. Especially with Bulleit and Martini Rosso.

Light Lounge Chinatown gay bar Ku London cocktails

The Boulevardier

Next on the list is the house original, the Catrina’s Kiss. Don Julio Blanco tequila, agave, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and a dash of Tabasco. A short twist on the Paloma, the Catrina’s Kiss is a balance of sweet from the agave and grapefruit, and sharp citrus from the tequila and lime.

Starting sharp and peppery, a silkiness and sweet sets in, ending with a kick of spice. Ordered on separate occasions, the amount of spice varied drastically, so probably best you specify how much Tabasco you’d like!

Light Lounge Chinatown gay bar Ku London cocktails

The spicy Catrina’s Kiss

Finally, the truly bizarre Death Flip. Don Julio Blanco tequila, yellow Chartreuse, Jagermeister, one whole egg and a splash of salt water, garnished with a chocolate finger.

Reminding us that often, 5 powerfully flavoured ingredients is too many. Sure, it’s got the overall flavour of salted caramel (kinda), but make sense out of it, I couldn’t. Was it sweet? Or herbaceous? Or medicinal? Or citrus? The chocolate finger didn’t really add to the drink, either, and seemed completely unrelated.

Light Lounge Chinatown gay bar Ku London cocktails

The Death Flip

One can’t simply help but feel that the bar would receive higher drinks ratings if the range and quality of the cocktails matched the prices on a say, 8.50 to the occasional 10 pound. But I imagine spaces like this in Chinatown don’t come cheap (just ask Leicester House).

The Light Lounge by Ku is heartening to see when much of queer and alternative culture is struggling in London, and I’m sure we are looking at a successful hang out spot right here. Hope to see more from Ku in more than just the West End where their four venues are concentrated.

All in all, the Light Lounge is a handy place to meet for an afternoon drink in the quieter hours, or even for a casual meeting with it’s relaxed ambience.

 

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

The Light Lounge

1 Newport Place, Chinatown
London, WC2H 7JR

http://www.thelightloungelondon.com/

Native, Seven Dials

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Food, Foraged Food, Game

 

From street food stalls, to pop-ups and supper clubs, Native has finally made it. Tucked away in a corner of Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, this seemingly unassuming restaurant has caused quite a stir within its first month of opening.

River Cottage trained Ivan Tisdall-Downes, and Wimbledon Tournament falconer Imogen Davis, spearheaded this production as food and front of house along with head chef Jack Botha. Native is taming the wild by focusing their menu entirely on game and arranged ingredients-sustainability is key, even receipts are emailed to customers. Whisky is organic and cocktail ingredients are foraged and home-made. Familiar simplicity meets contemporary innovation here at Native.

This former bread shop is pretty cosy, seating eight upstairs and about 20 below. A minimalist design might seem a bit stark at first but soon you realise how it complements a smaller space, and focuses attention on various other senses. The scent of lilies wafts through the venue when you first enter and is immediately followed by the fragrant herbs and sizzling meat from the open plan kitchen.

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Highland Harvest 7 Casks

Said kitchen is overlooked by the chefs table, a counter that opens directly to the kitchen where one can interact with the staff as they work (if you’re lucky enough to book one of those four seats, I imagine reservations are already filling up pretty quickly). A fantastic spot to observe everyone’s meals as they’re plated, as you decide which you’d rather go for. And the occasional treat from the chefs is always welcome-not to mention the very Instagramable lighting!

Hell, all the food here is Instragram ready.

Like the cuisine, the cocktails and their flavours revolve entirely around seasonality. The cosy venue does mean however, that the cocktail list must be kept short and simple. Very short in this case, two cocktails long, with a choice of eight wines and two beers.

Awaiting our first course, we begin with an Elderflower Bellini, and a Sloe Gun.

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The Elderflower Bellini

The home-made elderflower syrup for the Bellini was, of course, prepared with foraged elderflower-the final cocktail being sweet with a delicate floral flavour, but also with a surprisingly spicy kick. I highly suggest this as a fun twist on the Bellini, and as the less sweet of the two cocktails.

The Sloe Gun, prepared with East London Dry Gin, sloeberry syrup and Prosecco, is quite on the sweet side, with a long lingering fruit flavour. Personally, I felt the long finish tended to interfere with the beautiful starters-but it does not take away from being a decent drink in itself.

Quizzing Jack and Ivan about future cocktail ideas (and hopefully something a bit drier) the subject of an Apple and Sage Old Fashioned came up – which the Hoodooist personally hopes will be smoked with Applewood (fingers crossed!). Native could probably entertain the ideas of bottled cocktails as they have become increasingly popular in London.

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The first order to roll in, the Wood Pigeon, on beet hummus, pickled cabbage, and pitta bread with Harissa. The rich, sweet flesh of the wood pigeon contrasted beautifully against the beet hummus and cabbage; all the while managing to remain a bright and lively dish. Although the Hoodooist doubts it could compete with the Palourde clams in hot smoked pork belly broth with wild garlic. Like the previous starter, it manages to remain quite light regardless of how rich and flavourful the broth is. Hearty, homey, and well suited to the environment.

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A glass of red Sicilian Nero d’Avola accompanies the Venison haunch steak, topped with crispy onions and Salsa Verde, on a bed of cauliflower purée. Halfway through this main we realised we were getting rather full, but there was no way we could not finish this gorgeous medium rare hunk of venison. The deep, gutsy steak is brought alive by the occasional bright sparks of flavour from the Salsa Verde, their texture is contrasting with the crispiness of the onion.

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And there was no way we were leaving without dessert. Rhubarb and rosemary on meadowsweet cream scattered with coriander honeycomb. Just gorgeous. The fragrance is incredible, the meadowsweet in the cream almost like vanilla. The rosemary provides a very subtle contrast of the rhubarb, and the coriander seed is similarly subtle, but effective. Saving a piece of honeycomb for each bite, you start to notice the cream being sustained around the edges of the honeycomb as it melts into its surroundings.

Lincolnshire Poacher, with rhubarb chilli pickled pear on English quinoa crispbread is a more savoury alternative, paired alongside a dram of Highland Harvest Seven Casks scotch – an organic single malt with distinct fruit notes and creaminess, surprisingly smooth, with bit of a bite.

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Service at Native is impeccable – incredibly swift, and being seated at the counter allows you to have chat with the staff as the show keeps an eye at your pace, so nothing comes either too quickly or too late. Ivan and Jack managed to keep their cool in the kitchen at the busiest of times and amazingly still make time for customers seated at the counter, and Imogen is wonderfully conversational as front of house, keeping the show running smoothly.

 

The fact is, Native is exciting. Its focus on sustainability and foraging, means that menus can sometimes be unpredictable, and feel improvised almost – in the best of ways. The rustic decor extends to the feel of the food even though they are presented so beautifully – and prepared with incredible precision and skill behind the kitchen counter. The Hoodooist has to admit that Native comes as a refreshing change and massive improvement on what has otherwise been a fairly dull year in the food industry so far.

One can only hope that more restaurants will recognise the importance of skill and imagination over pomposity. Consider me a fan of Native, and fight me for the counter seat.

 

Drinks: *** (Good quality, would like to see little more variety)
Food: ****-*****
Atmosphere: ****
Service: *****
Native

3 Neal’s Yard, Seven Dials,
London, WC2H 9DP

http://www.eatnative.co.uk

Ropewalk by Disappearing Dining Club, Bermondsey

Type of Bar: Bar/Restaurant, Quirky
Damage££
Ideal for: Date, Small Groups, Large Groups, Food

 

Walking down Ropewalk off Maltby Street in the evening is a quiet walk, indeed. But, a little way down large colourful lights spelling out ‘Aloha’ beckon you into the strange and wonderful world that is the Ropewalk by Disappearing Dining Club.

Their second permanent venue in London, Disappearing Dining Club has opened a Victorian styled cocktail bar inside the LASSCO reclaimed furniture warehouse. The architectural salvage warehouse now houses not only a bar but a private dining room ready for booking from Thursday to Sunday. Dim lighting and candle flames illuminate little spaces in the darkness in the Barge Bar, with the barback from a reclaimed Victorian pub.

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The Barge Bar

The salvaged decor makes the venue a veritable treasure trove, and a wonderland for antique geeks. And the romantic bar space is accompanied by a similarly seductive cocktail menu.

A short menu of seven drinks, with well chosen, specialised spirits, does tip slightly to the sweet side on all the tasted cocktails, but manage to stay well-balanced.

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The Serpentine

Beginning with the Serpentine: Cognac, Szechuan pepper, sugar, bitters, Prosecco with a grapefruit twist. Expect an initial flourish of the cognac dry fruit, followed by a drier bite of the Prosecco fresh fruit – followed by a slight numbing from the Szechuan pepper, a strange sensation indeed. Overall, the drink is quite balanced, and makes for a good aperitif – however, the Hoodooist believes there are better options on the menu.

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The Coromandel

Ah, now this one stands out. The Coromandel brings us Suze, Soju, Chrysanthemum flower, lemon, and Prosecco. A much lighter drink, for sure, this cocktail is also more complex, and has much more going on. A light floral nose from the chrysanthemum garnish, and a palate that begins with a short punch from the Prosecco but quickly replaced by the spicy quinine kick from the Suze. The Suze mingles well with the distant stone fruit of the Soju, and of course – the bright flavours of the chrysanthemum, which dominates the finish.

I do encourage readers to try this cocktail, simply to enjoy the parade of flavours it provides the drinker.

The next two cocktails are certainly more suitable as digestifs – and both are a nod to Eastern flavours.

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The Ottoman

The Ottoman mixes Rum, pomegranate shrub, yoghurt, egg white with a dusting of sumac and garnish of pomegranate seeds. A mix of sweet and tart, the yoghurt is much more similar to labneh, with its distinctive saltiness; and the sumac adds a beautiful pop of colour and tartness to the drink. The rum plays a much smaller part than the pomegranate shrub which enjoys contributing its red sweetness to the cocktail. Definitely recommended as a sweet option for drinkers without a sweet tooth, or for fans of Lassi.

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The Chandan Box

Now, the Chandan Box (from the Hindi word for sandalwood), brings us Rye whiskey, Oloroso sherry, Antica Formula sweet vermouth, and a rim of sugared pure sandalwood. What a beautiful nose on this cocktail, the woody spice is absolutely gorgeous. The sharp rye bite is toned down by the complex mixture of dry fruit and orange from the vermouth, which immediately moves in to the powerful sherry flavours. It soon returns to a finish of sweet sandalwood and the Antica Formula vermouth.

Unfortunately, the Carpenter’s Cup is not as promising as the previous cocktails: Jensen’s Old Tom Gin, Punt e Mes, birch extract, tonic, cucumber, and mint provides a long, fairly tasteless, sour drink that one would avoid, particularly when the other options are so much more rewarding.

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The Eisenhower Room

Now, when it comes to dining, the Eisenhower Room, built using wooden panels from old US Naval HQ in Grovesnor Square, from which President Eisenhower Private dining is available throughout the week, as are DDC-made snacks from the bar. Dining menus change with the season and are exactly what you’d expect from DDC; simple, elegant and full of flavour. On Saturday and Sunday daytimes you can bring food in from Maltby Street market. A meal will need booking in advance as the venue does not have a kitchen.

Bar snacks of curried crab on Guinness bread, or beef carpaccio wrapped around green bean and truffle salad were beautifully done, as was the first course smorgasbord of Brick Lane smoked salmon with dill pickle cucumber, simple but flavourful. Also on the smorgasbord was the powerfully flavoured beetroot cured salmon, served with lemon crème fraiche and dill. The potted duck with orange and black pepper, though gamey and rich, could not compete with its neighbours on the board.

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One then wishes the main course kept the standard of the canapés and smorgasbord. Slow roasted pork belly, though cooked wonderfully, lacked a bit in flavour, but was accompanied by much more demanding pickled kale (the only way you can get the Hoodooist to enjoy kale) and salsa verde. The potato accompaniment, though, was rather watery. Nonetheless, the wine pairings were appropriate, a Sicilian Cataratto and a French Grenache/Carignan, both quite acidic, but the Hoodooist does enjoy his Sicilian.

Dessert, like the rest of the meal, was simple with fun twists: ‘eggy bread’, thick and rich, topped with spiced raspberry compote. Gorgeous. Went in for a second after!

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Conclusion? Come here for the cocktails, definitely. Complex with innovative flavours, balanced with a bit of sweetness, Ropewalk by Disappearing Dining Club is a great new cocktail destination to add to Bermondsey’s growing bar scene.

 

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

 

Ropewalk by Disappearing Dining Club

41 Maltby Street, Bermondsey,
London SE1 3PA

http://disappearingdiningclub.co.uk/