Friday, 22 March 2013

Playboy Bunnies, Superman & The Art In London’s Food & Drink

Fluid London journalist, Jon Falcone, discovers that some of London’s bars, restaurants and clubs have a keen interest in the world of art. 

Whilst a good many people will be regulars at the recently re-imagined Playboy Club in Mayfair; many more people are not.
The opportunity to take a peek inside this bastion of glamour and bon vivre is too good to resist, add to that the fact that there’s an exhibition of Paul Mellia’s hyper real paintings on show, and you’ve all the ingredients for a party of potentially epic proportions.

So what’s the Playboy Club like? Well, there is public access to the exhibition (before 9pm, then it becomes members only) and the bar is a large, relaxed space with comfy over-sized couches and jet-black walls with large splashes of soft purple and ice blue lighting.
Traverse the bar area and there’s a secluded restaurant, roulette and black jack tables and an outside terrace. It’s stylish without being pretentious and glamorous without being garish. It’s like a Vegas casino toned down to fit into London’s less audacious environment.
Then there’s Mellia’s art, as one of the very few artists globally who is allowed to replicate and sell images of Marvel comic characters, his work is part homage to iconoclasm and part contortion of the same culture.

A huge canvass of The Joker, eyes rabid, with the term ‘Ka Pow’ painted around him dwarfs one wall, whilst a blurred motion shot of Michael Jackson adorns another, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse in oversize control another. The prices range from £1,000 for a print to £15,000 to a full print. Okay, the wife and I have some money from our recent wedding; but I’d feel guilty if I blew it on a piece without her consent.

And, of course, there’s the food, the drink and the Playboy bunnies. The bunnies maintain that famous pairing of graceful beauty and approachability, the champagne cocktails are punchy and the canapés - prawn lollipops with spicy chili mayonnaise; king-size prawns and mini Yorkshire puddings with roast beef - are knockout. All in all, the Playboy Club certainly knows how to put on a gallery viewing, especially when they adorn the walls in current day hyper pop art.
In tribute to an evening of artful indulgence, here’s a brief look at some of London’s bars and restaurants where the walls are as important as the plates and the pints.

Quaglino’s restaurant in St James

A beautiful art-deco restaurant and brasserie-bar, Quaglino’s has been around as long as London has been swinging. With a menu that’s famed for its shellfish and walls that are blessed with regular photography exhibitions such as Gered Mankowitz’s recent ‘Rock’n’Roll’ work, Quaglino’s offers sensations across the senses.

Quaglino’s also offers theatre menus, an excellent value lunch bar menu and other offers, such as a current Royal Academy tie in where a two course meal, glass of house wine and entrance to the Manet exhibition is only £32.50. Book this offer below.

Hix restaurant in Soho

Restaurateur Mark Hix opened this literal art gallery-cum-kitchen in 2009. It won the Time Out 2010 best new restaurant accolade and has been an institution ever since for it’s high-art mobiles that include a Damien Hirst, suspended from the ceiling over the bar (the same artist was commissioned to create the cow and cockerel at Hix’s east London restaurant, Tramshed).

There are theatre menu offers, as the restaurant is located close to theatreland, but having ordered them twice, I was once made to feel like I’d rather the earth swallow me for doing so, so be prepared: pretence may potentially play a part. Downstairs is a more relaxed cocktail bar that’s as comforting as it is classy.

Graphic cocktail bar in Soho

In the otherwise gentile media hub of Golden Square, Graphic cocktail bar not only offers London’s largest gin selection (180 gins) but it also overhauls it’s décor every three months, allowing up and coming urban artists the chance to literally turn the walls into art.

Whilst style is paramount at Graphic, it’s mixed with fun. Cocktails come in paint tins, with different colours meaning different concoctions - red is Beefeater gin, Briottet mixed berry liqueurs, fresh lemon juice, Angostura bitters, cranberry juice, for example - and they’re reasonably priced £7.75 a pop. The make-your-own-sliders (three for £10.50) are as tasty as they are playful too. Graphic does get absolutely rammed at the weekends, so an off-peak visit is in order if you want to be able to eat in comfort and appreciate the works of art on the walls.

1 comment:

  1. This place is really great. It looks so amazing. And I love the idea of cartoon character wall arts. So cute! Thanks for sharing this information and for these photos.