Monday, 30 December 2013

Photos: 23 New Bars & Restaurants for London Drinkers and Diners

Fluid London’s Christian Rose-Day shares glimpses into the latest bars and restaurants to open in London.

London has been, over the last couple of months, in a festive mode, drinking and dining through a number of Christmas party celebrations and end-of-year Champagne catch ups. Yet the pace at which London’s drinking and dining scene expands has not slowed in the slightest, with new bars and restaurants opening all over the capital.

Here is a collection of photos to provide you with plenty of visual impetus to start compiling a ‘must do’ bucket list for 2014.

5 new bars recently opened in London

BrewDog Shepherds Bush
This Scottish brewing company opened their first bar only a few years ago. Now there are 13 BrewDog bars in the UK, with BrewDog Shepherd’s Bush (pictured above) proving the third such bar in London, after successful branches in Shoreditch and Camden. The bar has 40 draught beers available in a variety of sizes. Perfect for a pint prior to a gig at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
Gangsters Tequila Paradise
It seems Londoners are never quite comfortable at ground level. The number of bars and restaurants at great heights is growing by the week. As is the old London favourite: the basement bar. New cocktail bar, Gangsters Tequila Paradise (pictured above) near Oxford Circus, is the second Fitzrovia venue from the team behind the London Cocktail Club who have this time brought a bit of LA Noir graffiti drama to the streets of our capital.
Possibly central London’s best sports bar, new venue Riley’s on Haymarket (pictured above) provides three ping pong tables, seven pool tables, four bars, the largest sports screen in London (apparently), plus 34 TVs screening 70 different sports channels from around the world. If they’re not showing it, then the match probably never happened.
Simmons Camden
One of our critics paid a visit to the new Simmons Camden bar (pictured above) recently and came away stating, “Simmons bar is exactly what Camden has been crying out for: a well thought out, fun loving cocktail bar with passionate bartenders.” Following the cocktails-in-teacups and skull-shaped disco ball popularity of Simmons in King’s Cross, they’ve wisely done it all again for the Camden crowd.
Zinc (pictured above) - the new bar and club 31 floors up Tottenham Court Road’s iconic Centre Point - has just been launched, offering cocktail and DJ-fuelled Friday and Saturday night fun with one of the best views in London.

18 new restaurants recently opened in London

We all know how well Soho restaurant, Ceviche, was received. Martin Morales, its founder, has recently opened Andina (pictured above) too, turning seasonal British produce into Peruvian Andes dishes in Shoreditch.
Augustus Harris
West End theatregoers, there’s a delightfully cosy new bàraco called Augustus Harris (pictured above) to enjoy before or after the performance. Hide away in the basement restaurant, or take a stool at the upstairs copper bar and keep an eye on the action.
Cafe Football
Before you ask, yes that is Premier League legend Ryan Giggs and his mate Gary Neville in the above picture. Football is now edible thanks to the Manchester United players’ new restaurant at the Westfield Mall Stratford called Cafe Football.
Chotto Matte
Japanese inspired Nikkei cuisine got a street art overlay recently with the opening of Chotto Matte (pictured above). This Soho restaurant is split over three floors and includes a sushi bar, robata grill and lounge.
Ember Yard
As the name suggests, the new Ember Yard restaurant (pictured above) in Soho utilises the smoky aromas of charcoal to cook the Spanish and Italian dishes on its menu. If you liked Opera Tavern, Salt Yard and Dehesa you’ll probably want to visit this, the fourth restaurant in the Salt Yard Group.
And if it’s charcoal grilled food you’re after, check out the new Foxlow restaurant (pictured above) in Clerkenwell. Two-floors of action, yet again. I sense a trend.
This rather snazzy looking booth table belongs to the new Indian restaurant, Gymkhana (pictured above), in Mayfair. An old school British feel coupled with a Tandoor oven menu and a bar list that includes Indian punches, absinthe, arrack and Indian pale ales.
Hudson’s House
The proximity to Tottenham Court Road tube station makes the new Hudson’s House bar and restaurant (pictured above) an attractive option when that “one for the road” urge hits you in central London. No problem if it goes beyond that time limit though; the restaurant is part of a hotel with plenty of rooms available. Ding dong!
Jones Family Project
Split level restaurant? Check. Grilled meat? Check. Plush, cosy booths? Check. The trend(s) continues in 2013 with the opening of this new Shoreditch restaurant (pictured above), which goes by the name of The Jones Family Project.
Now here’s something a little different. A Mexican restaurant minus the walls filled with colourful lucha libre masks and strange, potent varieties of hot sauce; instead just minimalist interior design and, intriguingly, “tequila lockers” for regular customers. Plus, Peyote (pictured above) is situated in Mayfair. Full marks for being unique.
Also popping up recently on the streets of Mayfair is new restaurant, Rextail (pictured above), the second establishment from Russian restauranteur, Arkady Novikov; this time focusing on fish, meat and game dishes.
The Rum Kitchen
So brand new is the new Soho branch of The Rum Kitchen just off Carnaby Street, that we don’t yet have an image of the restaurant itself. So here’s a record instead. Expect much of the same Caribbean flavour as the Notting Hill restaurant; and yes, plenty of rum.
Sign of the Don
The new Sign of the Don restaurant (pictured above) has 400 types of wine, champagne and cocktails on the menu. Oh, and some food. But 400 types of wine, champagne and cocktails: hello!
The wine list across town at new Marylebone restaurant, Sixtyone (pictured above), has a meagre 200 bins. Enjoyably, 20 of these are by the glass. Again, as this is a restaurant, there is also food available.
Strip Bar and Steak
I’d like to shake the hand of whoever named this new Farringdon restaurant Strip Bar and Steak. When browsing through Google, and on the strength of the name, you might hope for more than appears in the photo above. However, be assured that there is plenty of flesh on the menu.
The busy walkway between the South Bank and Waterloo station has been crying out for more drinking and dining choices. The new Topolski art cafe and live music venue (pictured above) is the answer.
In the centre of town at 3am and fancy a very late burger? Perhaps you yearn for breakfast at 9 in the evening? Providing around-the-clock munchies for hungry Londoners is the new 24-hour restaurant, VQ (pictured above), next to Tottenham Court Road tube station in Bloomsbury.
Wright Brothers
Following the success of their Borough Market restaurant, the Wright Brothers have flown over to Spitalfields Market in the City of London and opened a new restaurant there too (pictured above). Key seafood fan fact: the onsite sea water tanks contain 1400 live crab, oysters and lobsters!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

4 Members’ Clubs In London Almost Anyone Can Join

Nathalie Bonney explores a handful of London’s members club policies. 

London’s gentlemen’s clubs, Annabel’s and The Arts Club are British institutions; to the select few who are happy to pay the £1000 joining fee and wear a jacket at all times.

Members clubs like Shoreditch House and Soho House - now a badge of honour for fashwion and medi-yah – are still pretty difficult to get into.

Now there is a new breed of members club in London that is anything but stuffy.

Eight Club Bank (pictured above) recently launched its Blind Bee nights and a reduced £250 annual membership: giving punters the chance to enjoy that exclusive members’ club feel. Blind Bee nights give the club a speakeasy feel with soul food – the juicy pulled pork sandwich is fantastic - Dixieland-inspired live music and cocktails that are almost impossible not to glug down: Little Sister - vodka muddled with cucumber, mint, fresh lime and revelatory ingredient cumin - is about as refreshing as a cocktail can ever hope to get.

Inspired by Eight’s efforts, here are some of London’s top members clubs open their doors to Mr Joe Public.
Eight Members Club (above)
Membership grants access to both the Moorgate rooftop club (splendid city views from its decked terrace plus a studio gym and library) and city den in Bank (pool tables and a cinema). From whisky tastings to hot dog and martini nights, the latest nightly offering from Eight Bank is its Blind Bee nights.

Who goes there? Its city location is inevitably attractive to the square mile crowd. Just as its signature drink includes a healthy dose of champagne, members at Eight love a bit of cash flashing.

Membership: Eight membership £800 +£75 joining fee
. Blind Bee membership (just bank) £250 annual membership for weeknight access from 6pm till late. 

Non-member access? Quartier Restaurant in Eight Moorgate takes a small number of non-member reservations.

Drink of choice? Queen of Eight (Lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaf infused Snow Queen vodka, shaken with vanilla sugar, charged with Tattinger Champagne) for Eight regulars or from the Blind Bee menu the Queen of Hearts: a mix of berries, rum, cointreau, crème de framboise with a splash of champagne.

Milk and Honey
If you’ve ever walked down Soho’s Poland Street, you’ve probably walked straight past Milk and Honey’s doorway. This drinking den keeps things simple: its games room is available free to members for private parties: flat screen TV and DVD player, a sound system you can plug your iPod into, and private bartender, then there’s the bar...

Who goes there? The discerning drinker. All mixing glasses and most glassware are kept in freezers at -30C and you won’t find cranberry juice in any of the cocktails because the club will only serve drinks - like the one pictured right - when juices are prepared by the staff who squeeze fresh orange, lemon and pineapple juice every afternoon and even press ginger for the club’s own ginger beer.

Membership: £400 + £50 registration fee

Non-member access? Non-members can access the club until 11pm if they call ahead and book (this usually transpires to the start of the week only).

Drink of choice? Penicillin (peated scotch, lemon, honey, ginger) and Florodora (gin, raspberries, lime, ginger, soda).
Maggies (above)
One of London’s least exclusive members club, Maggies in west London has a membership policy that essentially guarantees regular punters a venue they can go to ever Saturday night, dance to 80s music and, err, listen to the Iron Lady’s speeches in the toilets.

Who goes there? The (young) Chelsea crowd: expect bare legs, St Tropez tan and a lot of air kissing at this Fulham Road club.

Membership: £300 a year plus £50 joining fee or £30 a year gets one guest complimentary entry to the club.

Non-member access? Non-members can go to the club whenever they like but from Tuesday – Thursday (when there is a guest list) they must have called in advance to put their names on the guest list first. On Friday and Saturdays non members can also go but it’s not cheap: they must book a table space and minimum spend is £60 per non members. 

Drink of choice? Served in what it sounds like, the Maggie's Head cocktail (Russian Standard vodka, lychee, Blackberry, juicy apple and Archer’s peach schnapps).

The Hospital Club
Plenty of space in this Covent Garden members bar; members have seven floors’ worth of amusements from TV and music studios, a gallery, pool room, screening room plus a restaurant and two cocktail bars.

Who goes there? Expect to see lone hipsters tapping away on the many Apple devices alongside trendy ad execs (that means no suits) meeting and schmoozing over their latest campaigns.

Membership: £775 plus £250 joining fee. Under-30 membership costs £425 and under-27 £325.

Non-member access? Admittedly it’s limited: but the Hospital Club puts on about four gallery exhibitions each year, which open up to the public. The latest is ‘We Bury our Own’ a series of photographic and video work by the Australian artist Christian Thompson. Open to the public from 6-11 November 11am-6pm daily

Drink of choice? The Twinkle (vodka, elderflower and champagne in a coupe with a twist)

Friday, 27 September 2013

Photos: Is This The Best Breakfast View In London?

Christian Rose-Day is scared of heights, so naturally we sent him up The Shard for breakfast. 

A meal with a view; London has a few, no doubt. The view across the Thames at The Bingham; of St Paul’s Cathedral from Madison; of The Gherkin from Duck and Waffle. Yet, besides this latter lofty restaurant, there aren’t any restaurants in London that offer a view of the Thames, of St Paul’s Cathedral AND of The Gherkin…

…except for the small cluster of recent openings in Europe’s tallest building, The Shard, where incredible views from the 9000th floor will cost you around £25, but where you can also see the same views from half way down for FREE. Save that 25 quid for breakfast, I say.

Aqua Shard - the latest restaurant from the Aqua Group, which specialises in vertiginous drinking and dining experiences like Aqua Nueva, Aqua Kyoto and Aqua Spirit in Soho – is 30-odd floors above London Bridge station; a remarkable place to enjoy breakfast, even if you’re like me: not so great with heights.

We recently enjoyed a romantic breakfast at the glass edge, right on top of the world, sneering down on London’s busy workforce as it trudged its way wearily to work. Cosy two-person tables sat on most sides of the restaurant, affording plenty of impressive business-schmoozing possibilities for clients and colleagues; as well as doe-eyed romance for lovers (I predict a fair number of proposals will occur in this restaurant).

The view looking west, with the sun at our back, across central London included highlights such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Southwark Cathedral and the river. To our right, the Gherkin, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and the City of London’s peculiarly shaped skyscraper obelisks of power.

The new breakfast menu at Aqua Shard is both impressively long - options, options, options – and surprisingly affordable. My gargantuan Shard Breakfast was only £14.50, and arrived on what I thought was a platter but was assured was merely a plate. It included two eggs, Staffordshire streaky bacon, Cumberland sausage, spinach, wine tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, toasted sourdough, Bermondsey salted ricotta, hash browns, smoked ham hock cannellini beans and a kitchen sink. Unusually for me, I was unable to finish.

I intend to return, once I’m hungry, for one of the many healthier options.

The restaurant’s 3-floor atrium space was a lovely place to start the working day and I recommend trying it for yourself sometime soon before everyone else catches on to the idea.

Friday, 20 September 2013

How To Dress For The Blitz Party In London

Off to a vintage night? Fresh from the Blitz Party, Abigail Smith takes you through a step-by-step guide to dressing for men and women in 1940s London. 

Time travel doesn’t have to be tricky. Sure, some of us love spending hours preparing for a vintage event, but to others it just sounds like hassle. If the thought of all that effort puts you off the Blitz Party at Village Underground, then comrade, you’re missing out.

Since I don’t have a time machine to give you a second chance at attending, here’s a simple guide to surviving the next Blitz Party in style.

Ladies of today have it easy on the outfit front, thanks to a zillion 1940s-inspired catwalk looks that have filtered down to the high street. Chances are you already own something that’ll pass for the past, whether it’s a flowing tea dress or a structured pencil skirt.

When it comes to the boys, I’m not going to lie, the overwhelming majority of Blitz Party attendees had clearly hired vintage uniforms (and again, full disclosure: the effect is swoon-inducing). However, if you don’t want to shell out, there really is no need; a shirt, tie and braces combo will see you through just fine.

Chaps, your armoury of beauty products is – as ever – much smaller than the ladies’. Shoreditch scruffs, sorry to say this, but one of the easiest ways to look authentic is to shave off that beard. Once your face is presented to army standards, it’s time to set your hair in a neat side parting if poss. If you really want to go that extra mile – and you’re already a smoker – join the aficionados puffing on pipes outside.

As for the chappettes.....

Rightio, nothing too scary here. Some kind of setting lotion or curl-memory gunk, some firm hairspray, styling tools, red lipstick and nail varnish and, ahhhh, Bisto. Here’s a tip that’ll save you some time: give the ‘gravy browning on the legs’ trick a miss. We tried this wartime substitute for silk stockings, and we failed.

For ladies, it’s your hair that’s really going to define your look so this bit is actually worth taking time over. Work some curl product through wet hair, then blow dry in sections around a barrel brush, fixing each round a roller while it’s still warm. If you’re going to attempt the classic Victory Roll style, then make sure you put the rollers in the location you want them, and roll hair in the direction you want the eventual swirl to go. Then take ‘em out, roll ‘em back up, then use grips and strong hairspray to hold in place.

Lips and nails were an iconic part of the vintage look, with available colours ranging from tangerine to vivid pink. But while factual accuracy is all well and good, what people first think of when you mention Blitz beauty is the classic red lip, so I say give the people what they want. I went for Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Suede, which goes on like a lipstick and stays there like a stain, meaning all you need to do is dot on some clear gloss at key points in the night. Trust me, with the loo queues the way they were at Village Underground, you won’t want to be popping in and out to reapply.

So here it is! The finished effect in oh-so-authentic black and white. Once inside, we were pleased that we’d followed the steps above because everyone looked so fantastic. With its brickwork railway arches, Village Underground has the feel of a mid-Blitz tube station, all set off by live music, best of Blighty snacks and cocktail lists disguised as Ration Books.

Unlike other vintage events, it’s not gaggles of girls with a few devoted boyfriends in tow. There’s a healthy mix of singles here, all getting into the ‘boys back on leave’ spirit. And if someone asks you to dance in the 1940s it’s a helluva lot easier to say yes, given the guarantee you won’t get twerked on. Awkward crotch-proximity removed, you’re more likely to give a new partner a go – at least around the dance floor. And if that’s not an incentive to make the effort, I don’t know what is.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

15 New London Restaurants For You To Gawp At

Fluid London’s Christian Rose-Day collates photos of London’s best new restaurants and asks: which one gets you drooling?

What do you look for in a new London restaurant? What inspires you to succumb to the compulsion to book? Is it the rooftop view? The alfresco seating? The waiter’s sexy French accent? The seasonal changes and British produce on the menu? The Michelin Star bling hanging around the neck of the head chef? The lengthy queue out the door and abundance of retro Instagram photos you’ve Liked of other peoples’ kimchee burgers?

Chances are - and if you’re anything like the shallow lot here at Fluid London HQ - your first impression of a new London restaurant, and your subsequent capitulation to its urges, are purely based on looks; shame on you!

And so, as we’re basing our opinions on looks alone, which of these new London restaurants will get lucky and receive your custom?

Albion Bankside British restaurant, behind the Tate Modern
This new sister restaurant to the Albion in Shoredich we all know and love (thanks Terence Conran!) recently evoked the words, “The lovely, attentive staff alone make Albion a worthy detour from the beaten path of the South Bank, and the food and décor don’t let the side down either,” to come pouring out of our critic’s fingers.

Aqua Shard British restaurant, London Bridge
Two words: 31st floor! That is all.

Casa Negra Mexican restaurant, Shoreditch
This dark, sexy Mexican has been flaunting its Mexican style tapas on the streets of east London for a couple of months now. All we want to know is what goes on in the Casa Playroom downstairs?

Courtesan dim sum restaurant, Brixton
Empirical Chinese opulence is touted by this new Brixton restaurant. Very stylish, very now. We envisage a boom in dim sum once this chicken and burger craze has fizzled out.

Field’s British bar and kitchen, Holborn
Possibly the best new restaurant in London for watching other people (struggle to) play tennis.

Luna Rosso Italian restaurant, Notting Hill
An older resident of west London gets a completely new facelift.

Monty’s wine bar and restaurant, Fitzrovia
“Monty's menu is modest but the food is anything but, providing a sumptuous dining experience with true Italian flavour.” So wrote our critic after a recent visit. But nothing was mentioned of the interior, aside from “Interesting wine-themed light fittings provide ample lighting to sup and read by.” Telling perhaps?

Royal Quarter Cafe near Buckingham Palace
A light, contemporarily designed new eatery that inspired a mini guide to eating in the Buckingham Palace area from one of our critics. Cakes and coffee are not the only things that make us lustful.

Shake Shack restaurant, Covent Garden
A new roadside American burger stand, only smack in the middle of the melee in London’s West End.

Shoryu Japanese restaurant, Soho
Specialising in Tonkotsu Ramen - the pork-based thick white soup - this new Japanese restaurant in the West End has over 120 varieties of sake, so your booze goggle will ensure you’ll love the look of the decor anyway.

Slabs restaurant, Marylebone
Apparently, the focus at this new restaurant is classic dishes, such as prime wagyu beef burger and whole north Devon lobster. A classic look too, it would seem.

Steers restaurant, Clapham
The South Africans want in on this unceasing burger obsession in London.

Story restaurant, London Bridge
Guests are encouraged to leave a book behind when they depart from this particular story. We like to think the decor has a distinct 1960s espionage feel about it. Almost as though one of Ian Fleming’s Bond villains would us it as his secret hideout.

VOC Grill restaurant, Kings Cross
The burgeoning Kings Cross bar and restaurant scene continues to expand, this time thanks to those cocktail wizards at Fluid Movement (see also Purl, Whistling Shop and VOC). Predictably, meat is the main focus of the menu.

Whyte and Brown restaurant, Soho
“We predict Whyte and Brown will be the new MeatLiquor or Polpo”; that was the summary proffered by our critic on her recent visit to this new central London hangout. Strong prediction!

Still not convinced? These aren’t the only new restaurants in London....