HOT on the heels of his downstairs bar at Polpo, Russell Norman’s new site Spuntino on Rupert Street gives a Lower East Side flavour to their rustic Italian style. The look is nineteenth century industrial Brooklyn, with wire caged filament bulbs, a pewter-topped bar, mosaic tiles and exposed brickwork. Don’t expect to see much of that, however, as it’s normally packed, with the atmosphere making it the place-to-be as much as the prohibition cocktails. Fun dining is also to be had but get there early as there’s no booking and no phone number.
For other openings you’ll have to venture a little out of zone one but it might be just worth the trip. The “Left Bank” Battersea area has really taken off since Von Essen’s Hotel Verta launched next to the helipad last year. Bennett on Battersea Square is a fresh offering combining oyster bar, brasserie, wine cellar and grocery store. Featuring an al-fresco patio and even a botanical garden, it’s ready for spring, but the inside oozes classic English style with the warm quaintness of a Parisian brasserie. Just down the road, Helix Bar is newer still, with a sleek interior worthy of a Bond film with huge windows giving it views of the whirlybirds below. Sip cocktails and watch the world fly by. With terrific seafood specialist The Fish Place opening close by, the air is a-buzz round here.
For the most interesting and eccentric new launch, however you’ll need to head east to the birth of Baby Bathhouse in Stoke Newington. This little treasure embodies the same decadent pleasures of City local The Bathhouse senior (hidden away near Liverpool Street) with luxurious Victorian-inspired design, including gilded candelabras and reclaimed church pews, but brought even more up to date with modern materials and gothic glamour. Risqué, cutting-edge entertainment will be the order of the day with everything from burlesque, comedy, literature, fashion and performance art. The nightclub and cocktail bar in the basement give way to the darker side of Victorian erotica so be warned. A botanical garden is on the way too, obviously the must-have spring/summer venue accessory. If you don’t travel well and are looking for a little quirky East End chic in the West End then the always-fun Punk on Soho Street has just been refurbished so might be worth rediscovering.
Tim Badham is the founder of Innerplace, London’s leading providers of VIP entertainment, including film premieres, fashion shows, launch parties and members clubs.