By Leah Harper.
The O2 Arena plays host to a whole range musical performances, and there is something intrinsically rock ‘n’ roll about its newest members’ bar, Alphabet City.
Not in the dingy, cigarettes-and-whisky sense either. And not just because we were visiting on a night when Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters happened to be playing The Wall Live next door (although it may have helped). Rather, Alphabet City offers a sort of luxury-without-pretension; something of a rarity so close to Canary Wharf.
From the moment we arrived at the venue, we were treated like rock royalty; something I imagine a good number of the bar’s future clientele will actually be. The main room is up two flights of stairs, but don’t be surprised if the outstanding archive of rock photography adorning the walls distracts you on the way there.
The bar itself sits at one end of an open lounge-style space, and offers a selection of modestly priced cocktails as well as the slightly more extravagant ‘Marshall Stack’, which comes “served in the world’s most iconic guitar and amplifier” (well, why not). We opted for the less outrageous (but still delicious) Passiflora - a delicate passion fruit and vodka cocktail - and sat ourselves in a cosy corner of the venue.
Fortunately, samples from the food menu soon arrived at our table, as there was little chance of my guest and I leaving the super-comfy armchair style seats, unless we had to. The furniture is certainly part of what gives this place character, with odd pieces having been purchased at local Greenwich auctions and reupholstered (by the same people that supply to Ralph Lauren, don’tcha know).
The menu itself is a million miles from the pizza and pasta offerings that are commonly found at The O2’s numerous chain restaurants. Instead, Alphabet City offers a rather more gourmet selection, including Tuna Tartar Pizzetta (the classiest mini pizza you’ll ever eat) and their version of Scotch Eggs (which are actually quails eggs in black pudding, naturally).
As we looked out over the gig-goers pouring into The O2, we mused over how Alphabet City is pretty much the perfect pre-drinks venue; especially for those lucky enough to be seeing an iconic performance, such as the one that evening.
“Do you guys have tickets for the show?” asked Alphabet City's owner, who stopped by our table for a chat. Sadly not, we replied. “Do you want some?” he enquired.
Before we knew it we were whisked off to a suite within the arena itself, doing our best to act cool and not seem quite as ecstatic about it as we actually were. Needless to say, the show was incredible.
The team behind Alphabet City definitely know how to host a great evening. And if you’re looking for the coolest after-party in town, I can certainly tell you where I’d recommend...!
Heading to The O2 Arena for a show? Follow this link for restaurant & bar inspiration.