Reverend JW Simpson, Fitrovia
Nestled away in Fitzrovia, beyond a nondescript black door and a few candles on the pavement lies the former home of Reverend JW Simpson. Walk through the doorway, pass a beautiful stained glass window that’s sure to catch your date’s eye and you’re immediately in a cute, shabby-chic date spot perfect for an after work cocktail or two. The bar is purposefully understated – peeling wallpaper, wall tiles, old light fixtures and a tiled floor that all hail from a time when the bar was home to the eponymous Reverend, providing the perfect conversation starter in those initial awkward moments.
The mood lighting, soft tub chairs and comfy sofas make Reverend JW Simpson the perfect intimate spot. Try and get a seat as you come down the stairs, it feels more homely than at the back – the sort of ambience where you can fire off the “getting to know each other” mandatory date questions without much interruption. The 90s indie music isn’t too loud so you can hear yourselves think, making it a cool yet cosy place to spend an evening sipping cocktails in new company.
An experimental bar menu adds a touch of the unknown, a subtle way of working out your date’s likes and dislikes. The usual suspects feature also, should you not feel too daring on your first encounter, but why hold back when there are delights such as red pepper liqueur, squid ink, tomato and cucumber consommé and rose vermouth mixed with tequila on offer? Order different cocktails and try a bit of each other’s, sharing the same straw is practically kissing, right?
The cocktails are pretty colourful – but they also serve beer by the bottle. Don’t arrive expecting pints, come here for a few cheeky post-office cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere and let the date flow. If you’re attending a Spirited Sermon (more on this later), you’ve both got to like/at least try the chosen spirit otherwise your date may go down like a lead balloon.
Tuesday nights are reserved for Spirited Sermon masterclasses. Masterclasses vary week by week with sessions at 6:30pm and 9:00pm where an expert takes you through the origins of your chosen tipple via a tasting session. Ours was a Day of The Dead themed evening based around tequila. If you’re looking for a bar date with difference then this is perfect, although be prepared to go to work with a hangover the following morning, especially if you skipped dinner. Neat tequila you say? Gotcha.
The masterclasses come with their own bespoke cocktail menus and after three of those bad boys, any pre-date jitters you may have had are sure to have dissipated. A ‘Dam Son!’ from the tequila menu is a particular favourite, it may look like an off mug of beer but it tastes delicious and is potent to boot – watch out for that apple and citrus foam top! Yum-my. You also receive three neat spirit tasters when participating in the masterclass, so buyer beware – choose your session wisely! Masterclasses are more of a second or third date idea, when you’ve got to know what kind of spirits your date drinks, (and more importantly what they don’t drink!). Throw in some additional useless information you may have, ask the expert some intelligent questions and you’re onto a winner.
If you’re attending a masterclass, you’re going to be doing shots of alcohol so you’ll need the stomach for it. Even though you’ll be with other guests and an expert during this session, rest assured there are many opportunities for flirting and hand holding under the high table should you wish.
After the date, depending on how it goes, you may feel you want to go out out, or if you’ve just partaken in the masterclass, the NY bagel shop next door can provide immediate carbs one might be needing for alcohol soakage. They also make a ’carbless’ option should one be watching their bread intake!
Reverend JW Simpson is a charming little place, but it’s a bit tame so if you’re after somewhere that provides hours of dancing and a judgment free location for a bit of grinding then this isn’t the spot. Also – going to the toilet at the same time is not recommended, unless you want to bump into your date sorting out their teeth in the mirror – it’s a unisex bathroom so choose to break the seal wisely.
3. Confess your sins at Reverend JW Simpson: perfect for a first date on any evening, or attend a Spirited Sermon on a Tuesday night for a second or third date with a difference.