Some of London’s most exclusive restaurants are home to seriously good watering holes. We take a look at three favourites
There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to rethink his drinking dens of choice. You’re now at an age where the grotty pub you spent your days as a student seems too overrun with young people sporting strange hairdos, but you’re not quite ready for the leather wingback chairs and port of a gentleman’s club.
Which is why you should look to restaurants. Time was that the words “restaurant bar” implied sitting in the draft for the door, perched on an uncomfortable stool while waiting impatiently for the people hogging your table to pay the bill and leave. Nowadays it is the savvy way to drink, and snack, at Michelin-level eating establishments without the extortionate bill or interminably long dining experience.
Tucked away on Turnmill Street is Jason Atherton’s Sosharu, an upmarket take on the Japanese izakaya. In Tokyo that word refers to a place to kick-back after work for a few well-earned ones, and while the upstairs restaurant is anything but, the bar downstairs, called 7 Tales, is a bit dive-y, dark and much more laid back. The walls are decorated with fragments from manga comics and neon signs illuminate the gloom. Drinks are interesting without being fey and its bar snack menu features karage chicken, which we’ve heard described as the poshest KFC around and pure culinary crack.
Also opting for that upmarket grunge-y feel is the bar under Dabbous on Whitfield Street, the Michelin-starred restaurant opened by Ollie Dabbous in 2012. Dabbous’s fellow partner Oskar Kinberg is the head barman of some pedigree so the cocktail menu is varied and experimental, even if the names are a little too pun-tastic. Better make sure you’ve saved some room for the bar snacks – the seemingly obligatory chicken wings are on the menu, but there are also two types of barbecued short rib of beef, duck soup or even langoustines if you’re after something to complement your Beer Grylls…
If rooftops are more your thing then head to House of Ho, which recently relocated from Soho’s Old Compton Street to a four-storey townhouse in Fitzrovia. The fourth floor is occupied by a cream-and-green colonial-style bar, the Ho Lounge Bar. As you would expect from somewhere that describes itself as a “taste of Vietnam with a modern twist” the cocktail menu is a riff on the old classics but there is an impressive list of whiskeys and sakes. The list of small bites is so comprehensive you’ll wonder why anyone would bother waiting for a table downstairs and, if lobby house is your thing, then there are nights when live music is provided by DJs.
Looks like you’ll be able to stave off that gentlemen’s club application for a couple more years at least.