IF VARIETY is the spice of life, then London is spicier than a ghost chilli. This winter witnessed the launch of countless bars and restaurants, all of which offer a different experience, and one that’s offering four. Lanes of London on Park Lane has branched out from its Mayfair environs to incorporate inspirations from many different ethnicities within the capital, with Indian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, and classic British all well represented (Brick Lane, Edgware Road, Kingsland Road and Portobello Road respectively). Francesco Turrini, whose alma maters include Mark’s Bar at Hix and Milk and Honey, helms the Art Deco detailed bar – a delightful amalgam of marble, traditional leaded glazing, oak and brass.
The ownership at new Kensington underground cocktail boîte Dirty Bones has ensured the well-dressed denizens of the Royal Borough can get their rocks off as easy as they do when they’re in east London, enlisting Shoreditch designer Lee Broom to trick out the room with his signature, cut-glass lightbulbs alongside a glut of neon, glossy throwback tiles, particoloured slatted walls and teal diner-style banquettes. The cocktails are as easy on the palate as the crowd is on the eyes, and strong enough to send you on your way. It’s a great American-ish addition to the Kensington scene.
For bubbles in Bishopsgate, new lounge bar Tirage is now the premiere destination, with over 120 different labels of Champagne and eighteen available by the glass. There are some real stunners in the collection, including a stimulating Michel Furdyna Rosé and an astoundingly delicious Champagne Drappier Carte d’Or. The room itself is stripped back, with industrial accents, parquet flooring, high top tables and a handsome arsenal of bottles and glassware.
Over in Soho, Vietnamese joint House of Ho was opened by celebrity chef Bobby Chinn on Old Compton Street. It keeps pace with the dimly lit and intimate spots in the neighbourhood, with light oaken flooring, muted grey walls, bamboo tables and leather seating. The drinks remix Western classics with eastern gracenotes. The Ho-groni is case in point, mixed with Campari, Tanqueray 10 and pomelo bitters.
Equally suited for date night, but with more of a Gallic touch, is Bistro Blanchette. The design is warm and rustic, with antiques sourced from Paris, ornate tiled floors and distressed wooden chairs - all basking in the warm glow of candle-lit tables and quirky nautical pendant lighting. Guests who are more interested in a casual experience can opt for the bar area, backed by a painted tile fresco in the Belle Epoque fashion, with potted plants, hams, cheese and various sundries on display.
Tim Badham is the founder of Innerplace, an exclusive London lifestyle concierge. innerplace.co.uk, @innerplaceLDN