Wonderland bar, The Vaults, Waterloo
Themed bars tend to walk the fine line between tolerably cheesy and horrifyingly cheesy. Wonderland Bar is an exception to the rule. It’s popped up until late August as part of interactive theatre performance Alice’s Adventures Underground.
Located in The Vaults art space beneath Waterloo Station (which you probably hadn’t heard of until now), Wonderland’s über-cool kitsch décor provides the most awesome backdrop to a first date. Playing cards and flamingos everywhere, candles at the bar, and disco lights on the dance floor. This is somewhere Carroll would be proud of.
Plus, the live music is amazing. I was fortunate enough to see South London-based indie rockers, The Thirst, who brought an edgy Brixton feel to an otherwise playful hangout.
New Orleans inspired jazz ensemble The Dixie Ticklers is next on the line up. Yes, it’s that kind of place.
In terms of food, it’s pies, pies and more pies (courtesy of Pieminister). “Real British stodge,” says the bubbly waitress at the counter. Each costs a modest £4.50 with a mash or coleslaw side at an extra £1.50.
A traditional Steak and Ale is first on the menu, but there’s a more adventurous Cook’s Boozy Stag Pie with venison, bacon, red wine and lentils. Mr. W Rabbit’s Rabbit Food Pie containing goat’s cheese, sweet potato, spinach and red onion makes a perfect veggie option. But let’s not pretend you came here to eat, okay?
I suggest starting with the £8 Royal Rose cocktail, a sparkling blend of gin, lemon and rosehip syrup (adorned with a rose leaf, of course). It’s sweet, but my favourite has to be the mysterious Drink Me, also £8. A strong blue concoction with a slice of lemon. The bartenders wouldn’t tell me what was in it, so I’ll guess you’ll have to discover that for yourself.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t make me bigger like it made Alice in the book. But it definitely had me grinning like a Cheshire Cat by the end of the night. Smith and Sinclair liquor sweets come out at about 9.30pm. Flavours include berry daiquiri, gin and tonic and spiced rum. Why not mix and match with your SO?
This joint is the smooth arm-around-the-shoulder of date venues. A subtle ice-breaker, there’s no worrying about awkward small talk when the night involves posing for funny gifs at the photobooth and being approached by hilarious Wonderland characters. And if you’re lucky, Alice herself will make an appearance. Oh, and you can reserve a table if you’re up for discreet chatter.
If you’ve planned on being wined and dined, you’ve come to the wrong place. Not for the refined, I’m afraid.
2. Won’t get you in the mood for anything other than a movie at theirs and a walk to the taxi.