Mystery bar number 62
The previous mystery bar (way back in July - I know, I've been slack) was quickly identified as the Buena Vista Social Club, the latest offering from mayoral candidate and "Gramma"-spammer John McGrath. It has great décor (despite the carpet) and an impressive spirits list, but sadly the owners seem to have spent all the budget on chandeliers and rum and not left any over to hire or train decent staff: I've had about four cocktails there over several visits, and only one of them was drinkable. Besides, does anyone else agree that it's time to call a moratorium on mock-Cuban names for bars and cafés?
This week's mystery bar also has an impressive interior, though rather than projecting an air of deliberately-distressed glamour, it exudes slickness and modernity. Furnishings and art by the likes of Tom Dixon and Richard Killeen combine with a stark palette of black, red and white to give a high-design aesthetic straight out of an Urbis photoshoot. But there are also a few more comforting touches, such as padded banquettes and a large wooden table, that combine with light flooding in the windows to create a feeling that is more welcoming that clinical.
It's primarily a restaurant and café, but quite laid-back enough to visit just for a drink. Given the limited range of spirits, that's unlikely to be a cocktail, but the wine and beer lists are reasonably extensive and have some interesting offerings among the more predictable choices. As a bar, it would definitely fall more into the "long lunch" or "couple of drinks after work" categories than the "raucous partying" or "late-night watering hole" camps, and the style and prices definitely suggest a mature and corporate clientèle. But the décor, which is more considered and inventive than the usual "minimalism by numbers" approach, makes it an attractive spot for a quiet glass or two in the sun.