Monday, 18 April 2011

Fire Eating Contortionists Open New Shoreditch Restaurant

By Kimberley Smith
 
McQueen bar-club-resaurant, a homage to the fabulous Steve, recently launched a deliciously naughty live entertainment night that Fluid fully enjoyed. But the McQueen Shoreditch takeover doesn't end there. The newest addition to the nightspot turns it from a club and bar to a fully fledged club-bar-restaurant. So, of course, Fluid was back down the front to sample some of the Hollywood cocktails, gape at the circus entertainment and chase the canapé waiters around; all the name of research, of course.
 
Swish Shoreditch is heading ever citywards so arriving at the fashionable bar/restaurant/club (that spans the two) shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

Leather loungers, furry cushions and a bizarre black plastic sculpture of women and fake hair resembling something out of America’s Next Top Model give the place a decadent feel and I suspect the King of Cool would definitely have basked in the opulence.
 As well as boasting its new restaurant, McQueen doesn't hesitate to make the most of the captive audience to showcase acts from its Secret Rendezvous club night and the husky tones of a 60s-style singing siren greet us on arrival, floating above the buzz of city types and scenesters in an interesting mirage of East meets money.
 
Sinking into one of the liberally scattered Chesterfields, sipping a champagne cocktail, it’s hard not the feel like an extra in Mad Men. Apart from the occasional flash of an iPhone, the vintage touches such as the fire place, wooden floor boards and gilded mirrors complete the effect, taking you back to New York circa 1960. And looking up, there are hooks on the ceiling; for what, I wonder?
 
Chef Anupam Som is in the house dishing out canapés to show off his new menu for the restaurant's launch. The food is a mixed affair with beautifully succulent beef chunks that melt on the mouth showing off a traditional hearty side to Som's creations combined with lighter, Asian-inspired dishes. Vegetarian options include the unusual combination of goat's cheese and beetroot, showing the chef's innovative use of ingredients and making me long for a multi-course tasting menu. 
Tonight the restaurant is open only for a scattered handful of extra special guests. Yes that IS Lemar over there sipping on champers. Themed with the same opulence and black-leathered sumptuousness as the lounge, the restaurant stretches out with styled bare brick walls and high ceilings that will make even the humblest dinner an occasion. Slick black and silver wine cooler stands are at the ready and animal print rugs dominate the floor to complete the effect.
 
After dining, there's no need to venture outside as the rest of the evening's entertainment is all in house. Downstairs, between padded walls are more Chesterfields and a blue tinged stage and dance floor for bands and boogie (though I doubt boogie is the correct word for the shapes the clientele are pulling). The toilets are of note, too, as the mirrored walls can send cocktail-addled minds spiraling into a Salvador Dali painting.
 
Back upstairs in the lounge area, the reason for those ceiling hooks is revealed as gymnasts throw fire around, contort and twist in to unlikely positions in their skin tight rubber costumes. Overall, it feels more Alexander McQueen than Steve McQueen, with the black leather, low lighting and strange silhouettes on the wall.
 Supping on another cocktail from the modern Hollywood-style menu, I lean back to avoid the spinning legs of circus performers and marvel at the fantastic hair on show in the DJ booth. I pretend I’m on a McQueen film set – it’s easily done!

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