Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings, Clerkenwell
The Bourne & Hollingsworth Group are a creative bunch. When I first moved to London, one of my first finds was their Prohibition themed bar in Fitzrovia. They were busy serving up Gin cocktails in a tiny dive bar space bedecked in chintzy wallpaper that wouldn’t look out of place at your grandparents’ and tunes would bang out until the wee hours from a DJ station atop an ironing board. Next came the famous and very fun Blitz and Prohibition parties. Now Bourne & Hollingsworth Group have turned their hand to an all-day brasserie and bar just off Farringdon Road in a very up and coming area; ahead of the curve as usual. The vibe at Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings is boozy, botanical and post-colonial chic – the elegant bar is stocked up with just about every libation known to man, propped up with intellectual types (is that a copy of The Great Gatsby in that man’s back pocket? Yes, I do believe it is). Branches, vines, plants and leaves hang, twist and gild around the two rooms; the parlour at the front with the sprawling bar and relaxed lounge with its mismatched vintage furniture and the restaurant room at the back; a charming conservatory with some plush velvet banquettes and a selection of garden tables and chairs. The English Garden doggone went and got its hair did.
We began the evening with a cocktail apiece. Please note that this man generally does not ‘do’ cocktails. For him, the ‘West Indian Gimlet’, consisting of ultra- manly (it was the only way I could get him to try it) Navy Strength Gin, Steve’s Falernum #7 (whatever that is – who cares? It’s delicious), fresh lime juice & House Bitters served in the most beautiful antique glass. He loved it. For me, a very ladylike ‘Cider Rose’, which was Apple & Blackberry shrub stirred with Somerset Cider Brandy, topped with Fizz and it came served with a large rose petal in the flute. Classy.
We ate a pleasing meal here with some lovely flourishes of excellence. Scallops with parsnip puree and hazelnut gravy was light and tasty and the pork belly on sweet potato puree and plantain fritters satiated my guy’s desire for a flavoursome and full meal. Desserts were yummy; caramel fondant perfectly oozy and his lime and olive cheesecake thrillingly umami. I’ve been telling EVERYONE I know about that cheesecake.
Arrive early and try to nab one of the banquettes otherwise one or both of you is in for a slightly sore bottom on the garden furniture. Order a cocktail. Cue: mood lights. Oh yes, the lights are dimmed and romance is ushered in. Decide on your wine (nice wine list). Peruse the cheeky little menu and see what you fancy. Hopefully, conversation is in full flow by the time your meal arrives and you can play a flirty game over the dessert and coffee or shall we have another drink conundrum. Dessert is recommended as is having a night cap. Perch on the comfy bar stools and choose something to suit your mood. Whisper in each other’s ear. Get a cab on order…
A great spot for an early evening bite to eat or a perfect luncheon on a cold, bright weekend day. Alternatively, just the location for a few cocktails before or after having a wander around Exmouth Market.
It’s a little hidden away. Then again, we all like to find something that others don’t know about.
Sex Factor – 3. When spring returns, this little lady will be blushing beautifully in all the right places but until then, hot toddies all round.