Noir W1, Mayfair
One of the first words my date used to describe the place was ‘vibe-y’. Now, while I am aware this isn’t likely a real word, Noir is one of the very few bars in London it would justifiably apply to. Think 1970’s New York…complete with direct view of a Selfridge’s display window.
This feels like the scene for some sort of paparazzi scoop drive by. Permissive – the kind of place you might take someone who is a) famous b) way out of your league c) your sister’s best friend – and yet also conducive to a night with your BFFs.
While wines, beers and bubbles are aplenty, this little joint is all about the cocktails. If you’re a lady, grab yourself a cheeky “Coquette” and get flirty with the candy floss. If you’re a guy, get the same (she’ll want it, she’ll want you; she’ll also be able to see how in tune you are with your masculinity). Seriously, though, you’ll probably want to have a sneaky look at the cocktail menu before you head out, to avoid appearing too indecisive (it’s not cute, it’s just annoying). A personal favourite is the “Frolic Fizz” – rye, vanilla liqueur, lemon juice, egg white, soda. But there are many very handsome drinks around here, and they will have you feeling a little giddy after a couple. Thanks to the reasonably priced menu, though, you won’t be embarrassing yourself tonight, and if all goes well you may even make it down to the “Frolic Room.” Start with some simple sharing plates – we recommend the prawn tempura, carpaccio and burrata – and go from there with a main if you’re settling in for the night.
Arrange a date from around 7:30 or 8. You’ll be there when the blinds come down and the lights are dimmed. The music will be keeping a good pace both with the hub of conversation and your cocktail intake.
People are moving about, everywhere, all the time, but it’s oddly unobtrusive, like Grand Central Station complete with a steak sandwich and fries Sal Paradise would write about (round off your meal with one of these to share – who needs dessert when you have truffle ketchup?). Keeping much of the format from its previous incarnation, Après, Noir has all the elements in place for either a surreptitious rendezvous before an early retirement or a full blown night on the razz: small but impressive cocktail bar, intimate table settings, shisha terrace, room to boogie in the basement. Apparently, also, live jazz on the weekends.
The rush of Oxford Street could prove a post-date mood killer. But then “we’ll always have Noir”.
4. Let’s get out of here before the paps see us.