Tuesday, November 15, 2016

From Brunch to Bed in Londontown

Trip date: October 2016

As I've mentioned, our flat was in such a great location, so many things within walking distance! Day four started with me taking a quick walk to the new Bar Termini in Soho. This is the new venture from Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrook Row and is really charming. A tiny cubby-hole of a spot, the bar opens during the day serving espresso, light snacks, classic cocktails, and incredible service. I had a quick Spritz but would have loved to have a little sandwich and hang out for a bit. Even though they haven't been around for long, they hit the 50 Best Bar list at number 30! Be sure to check this spot out for a bite and a sit down.
On to Dean Street Townhouse for brunch with my friend Ally who moved to London from the Bay Area last year. This is a chic little restaurant, with a few rooms decorated in comfy fabric covered chairs, another that is very bistro like with red leather banquets, all connected to the hotel of the same name. We had a delicious brunch, mine complete with mimosa and a mini-English fry up (full size also available), and an even better time catching up. Another great spot in Soho!

Forest swung in to say hello and then the two of us were off to check out the London Cocktail Week Cocktail Village. It's like the Olympic Village, only boozier. The village was at Spitalfields Market which was an easy tube ride from Soho (I had kept my Oyster Card from a prior visit and had just topped it up at the kiosk at the airport). There were about 40 different pop-up bars, all serving £5 cocktails. My favorite was the Sipsmith bar and their London Cup which is their pre bottled take on Pimm's Cup.
For snacks, there was a great truck serving delicious Scotch Eggs to help soak up all the booze. Yum!

We wrapped up our visit to the village and stopped in at the very pretty Blixen bar connected to the market to sample their LCW drink and sit down for a bit. The space here is cute, and they have a nice amount of outside seating so it is a good stop if you're in the market, but I wouldn't go out of my way (at least not for the drinks, the food, however, may be very good).

Back on the tube, we made our way to Farringdon to Hix Oyster and Chop House, which is just outside the Smithfield meat market. Forest and I were both really looking forward to some oysters and these did not disappoint. I didn't write down the species that we got but look at how big and flat the shells are! Also I have never had oysters served to me with the top lid set on! And those sausages were tasty as well.
We also ordered the LCW special which was called Gremlin No. 2. Not only was it delicious but it was a beautiful green concoction; gin, house-made parsley syrup, lemon juice, absinthe, pepper tincture, and cardamon infused apricot liqueur. The only thing at Hix that was a bit off was the bartender. This guy was like ice, it was actually funny he was so un-customer service oriented. I've been to other Hix restaurants and in general, have always found them to have great food and excellent drinks, I'd recommend.

Slurping down the last of our oysters and our cocktail, we were off to the new Oriole Bar, located on "Poultry Avenue" at the Smithfield Market. The dodgy-esque entrance had a doorman checking reservations (highly recommended) who then ushered us in and down stairs (this is the 2nd bar by the folks from Nightjar and the entrance is a similar experience). When we got to the bar itself we were greeted by a luxe room that seemed a little 70's Hollywood, a little tropical, and a lot swanky. This time, we were seated at the bar (after reminding them that I had requested this in my reservation), and were presented with gorgeous menus filled with charming anecdotes disguised as cocktails lists.

Even the water was flavored and garnished in a lovely manner. We had a great time here, especially with our bartender who had a certain flair of his own and was very serious (but friendly) about his job. Each bartender seems to be responsible for a certain area of the bar and therefore the particular drinks which are made there. Like in restaurant kitchens. Sometimes that means that one drink may be delivered before the other.
As with Nightjar, it's all about the creative vessel and garnish game here. One drink had an ice ball carved like a rose, scented with rose water while another drink had a marzipan bird flying across a cube with flowers frozen in it. When we asked for our tab we were presented with two miniature ice cream cones. Adorable! Too bad the ice cream flavor was mushroom! Ugh, but still adorable! This is a fantastic bar, another new one to the scene and hitting the 50 Best Bar list at 32. Get there!

We weren't quite done for the evening and grabbed an Uber to head to the ultra posh Savoy Hotel on the banks of the River Thames. Inside we made our way to American Bar which has received massive amounts of kudos and is currently #2 on the 50 Best Bar list.  Right from the start, the service was amazing. We didn't have reservations and this was Saturday night; the hostess told us it would be a 30-minute wait but unlike last night when that was a lie, here she came and got us in 15.
We were seated at a cozy little table in the main room near the piano (I don't know what it is about the Brits but they love live music in bars!), given some upscale bar snacks, and a beautiful menu of cocktails.

Our drinks were wonderful and averaging £18 each, expensive! But we were having such a fun time and the service and atmosphere were so good that we decided to stay for a nightcap martini.

We settled up and sticking with the very British experiences we had all evening, asked the doorman grab us a London Black Cab for the trip home. In the past I had found these to be quite expensive but it seems they are competitive in price now, or at least to the cocktails!

Other posts from this trip:
World's 50 Best Bars 2016
Let's London Cocktail Week
London Delivers
Last Call London

All London photos here.

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