Bar & Courtyard Mews of Mayfair, Mayfair

3 years ago

The Vibe

Lancashire Court is a hidden lane just off New Bond Street which looks and feels like only locals know of its existence.  Fairy lights twinkle overhead, cobblestones under foot and cosy watering holes flank left and right.  Mews of Mayfair is at the end of the quaint street and very welcoming it is too.  The deep leather sofas, ‘Best of British’ food and drinks menu and brilliant 18th Century chandelier hanging low from the ceiling make for a luxuriant and relaxing setting for a first or second date.

The Order

The bar offers a thoughtful cocktail list which is there simply to be enjoyed.  Someone has taken a lot of care in formulating the drinks list and we were delighted with creations such as the Sesame Street (Glenmorangie whisky infused with apricots, sesame oil, egg whites, toasted sesame seeds) and Dill Alley (gin, cucumber, dill and pickles) which really tickled the senses and make for great conversation starters.  The bar food menu is focused on making the most of British produce and all is presented beautifully: fried Sussex halloumi is delicious and the farmhouses cheeses with grape chutney makes for a lovely sharing plate.

The Game

Meet at Bond Street station and take a wander in the general direction of the bar taking in South Molton Street and Brook Street with the prettiest dressed windows in London.  After a short early evening stroll you’ll be ready to relax with a drink and get to know your date.  Mews of Mayfair is a great place to do just this: find a cosy corner inside and get close or sit out in the courtyard and enjoy the marvellous people watching together.  If the date is going well and you want to continue the evening, the bar food is worth a look or you could always nip into the brasserie to see if they have a table for two.  If the date is a resounding omnishambles, you can call it a night after one cocktail and hop on the nearest bus outta there.

The Faults

No complaints.  Mews of Mayfair do what they do very well.

Sex Factor

4.  All the ingredients for a good date are here: food, drinks, ambience and nice décor.  The rest is up to you.

The Jugged Hare, Barbican

3 years ago

The Vibe

All creatures great and tasty. This gastro-pub, located in the permanently 70’s concrete jungle of Barbican, serves up a whole host of seasonal British game, wild fish and shellfish served with expertly picked wines to accompany the strong seasonal flavours. Split into a pub and dining area, The Jugged Hare has an after-office hours ambience generated by City workers relaxing after a hard day working for a FTSE 100 company. The only footsie I was interested in that evening was going to be taking place at the dinner table so we made our way past the suit-clad drinkers for our 7pm mid-week reservation. If you grew up in the countryside and spent time strolling in the fields trying to spot rabbits, pheasants and other woodland critters then you will have no trouble here as they are everywhere you look. Resembling a trophy room Mr Jones from George Orwell’s Animal Farm would be proud of, this is a manly place for eating macho food, so put your Barbour jacket and flat cap on and head on in.

The Order

Your Room 101 of food might include things like snails and bone marrow but that’s just one of the starters at The Jugged Hare. Be adventurous. Tender Herefordshire snails served with bone marrow croquettes were much more delicious then they had any right to be. Sautéed chanterelles and mushroom croquettes with a duck egg plopped on top was the closest either of us got to a vegetarian dish the whole night. Our knowledgeable waiter suggested a versatile Pinot Noir (La Bousselle, VdP d’Oc 2012) to go with.  The main menu is an ornithologist’s guidebook to British fine dining: chicken, grouse, pigeon, woodcock, partridge, mallard, and wigeon (Google it) all fresh from the Yorkshire countryside. Prefer your animals with four legs? Venison, pork, mutton and a whole range of steaks are cooked on the grill. Fish is bought daily from Billingsgate in case you are tired of eating the Animals of Farthing Wood. It was Pheasant Week (of course!) when we visited and the ballotine of pheasant with wild-boar stuffing was a delight. My date went for the venison haunch, which was beautifully pink.

Definitely save some room for the sticky toffee and chestnut pudding with mince pie ice cream.  It’ll make you grin like Cheshire cats (which is probably on the menu in the next couple of weeks).

The Game

Before heading off for some literal game, we met at Bar Smith in Farringdon for some of their house-infused spirits and cocktails. An industrial, east London bar with exposed brickwork and atmospheric lighting we perched ourselves at the long bar which is in prime sight of the kiln where they make their own pizzas, the smell priming our appetites for dinner. The “Basil Fawlty,” a gin based cocktail with elderflower, lemon juice and cranberry topped off with basil syrup started a conversation about my dislike for Monty Python but my date insisted she could win me round.

We goose-stepped towards The Jugged Hare, which is in close proximity to the Barbican Centre and it’s the perfect place to eat after going to the Barbican Cinema (massively underrated) to see the latest film starring Benedict Cumberbatch or the Barbican Hall (amazing acoustics) to see the latest Shakespeare production starring Benedict Cumberbatch. With our bellies full of game, post dinner we went for a half-pint at the Old Red Cow where our convo turned to the strangest animals we had ever eaten. A ghastly gastronomic Top Trumps ended up with my Crocodile (practically a dinosaur) beating her Kangaroo (Australian bouncing cow). We took a jaunt down towards St. Pauls where we had a late night cocktail on Madison’s roof terrace which overlooks the stunning Cathedral. We debated the best buildings in London with the Cathedral being a clear favourite for her whilst I was trying to big-up the Shard. One cocktail turned into three, with the “Rooftop” cocktail of Hendricks gin, elderflower and Prosecco going down exceedingly well.

To prove her point on her favourite building we strolled hand-in-hand across the Millennium Bridge to the south of the river to see the Cathedral standing out spectacularly against the busy, modern buildings of London’s skyline. Invest in a Tate Modern membership, mainly for the exhibitions but also for a drink in the members bar overlooking the Thames and north London. If she’s not impressed by the artwork then the views will definitely seal the deal.

The Faults

If your date is one of them vegetarians that you read about in the papers then probably give this place a miss. If your date enjoys eating fresh, seasonal British produce that wouldn’t look out of place on Best of Countryfile then this is your place.

Sex Factor

2 – Masculinity oozes from the walls. Woodland animal taxidermy might not get you ruffled under the feathers but the tastes and smells definitely will.

Bobo Social, Fitzrovia

3 years ago

The Vibe

With a name like ‘Bobo Social’ you would be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled upon a review of a Tinder-style app for single parents with toddlers looking for the perfect play-date but you couldn’t be further from the truth.  Situated on the ‘unofficial business lunch’ capital of London, Charlotte Street, this new high-end burger restaurant has a very modest front door and entrance hallway leading into a minimalist dining room which makes you feel like you are entering a supper club run by Kate Moss.

We arrived at 7pm on a cold Thursday evening and even at this time it had a great buzz and liveliness about it.  The name ‘Bobo Social’ is an amalgamation of the words ‘Bourgeois’ and ‘Bohemian’ and the décor is certainly playing for Team Bohemian. Crockery plucked from Alice in Wonderland, aged wooden tables and chairs and low-hanging Edison bulbs give an intimacy to each space with the white walls preventing the feeling of dining in a haunted house invaded by an axe-murderer (I’m talking to you Meat Liquor).

The Order

If the décor is Bohemian then the food is definitely Bourgeois. We got things under way with a deliciously smooth chicken and British chorizo pate. To accompany this my date insisted that we had the sea bass ceviche and I could kiss her for this decision (I did later).  After the light starters we headed into burger country.  Bobo Social differs from traditional burger bars in that they use different British beef and wood on a weekly basis so, in theory, no two trips should be the same (unless you go in the same week, and we probably would). I opted for the Bobo which is a 6oz Rare-Breed beef served in a buttermilk bun with lettuce, charcoal roasted red onions and BOBO Sauce.

In case you were wondering the vital statistics were meat: Galloway and wood: English plum. Cutting to the chase: it’s the best burger I’ve ever eaten. I managed to share a fragment with my date and she hi-fived me and agreed – the flavour is incredible with no burger juice, greasy brioches or overcooked patties in sight.  My date went for the Lobster and Crab burger which was bloody lovely too. A cavalcade of sides are on offer; whilst we got stuck into the beef dripping chips, served in a large tea cup and the apple slaw with pumpkin seeds which were both very good, we couldn’t help but notice the table next to us had ordered the chilli chocolate latticed bacon which we will definitely be trying on our return visit.

Top tip: order the dark & milk chocolate mousse with salted caramel with two spoons  and share it. If you want to keep the booze flowing then the dessert cocktails are very enticing. My date went for the ‘Apple Crumble in a Glass’ which is apple and cinnamon infused Bourbon with vanilla and cinnamon cream.

The Game

I met my date at the nearby Fitzroy Tavern prior to the burger action. Drinking a pint for under £3.50 was the aim of the game and Sam Smith’s chain of delightful boozers meant that we were rolling double sixes from the word go.  The Fitzroy Tavern and Sam Smith’s pubs in general are reliable watering holes, which have refused to succumb to the hipster’s favourite – cans of craft pale ale that have been expertly brewed six inches from your face but cost more than a barrel of oil shipped from Libya.  Fortunately for me my date proved no stranger to downing 2 pints of Taddy in 60 minutes, so after discussing the demise of Dapper Laughs (RIP, gone too soon, misogyny lolz) and wetting our whistles, we were on our way.

The conversation wasn’t the only thing flowing as we ordered cocktails; choose from the Classics, the British and for those celebrating a new job, birthday or Tuesday, the Champagne section. My date opted for the Lavender Bomb (Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon juice, sugar, served with plenty of lavender-y goodness) whereas I went for my old favourite, an Old Fashioned. It’s a tricky craft making a good cocktail but these went down swimmingly. The best burgers in London had my date audibly wooed – I think I heard a little food-gasm.  Bobo Social provided the amazing food and atmosphere but surprisingly one of the winning factors for my date were the toilets. She visited them twice and came back with a big smile on her face both times (not for that, filthy bugger). Often overlooked, the toilets at Bobo were a hit. Resembling mini-Cath Kidston stores, these little spaces of paradise, with the music of her favourite band Interpol playing proudly, really were a hidden delight. On the right side of tipsy, we strolled down Charlotte Street for a quick ‘Mexican Bullet’ at The Red Bar before slipping off into the night feeling all good’n’stuff.  Needless to say we’re booked in for another date.

Sex Factor

5.  Food that produces long audible moans of delight, an atmosphere that makes you feel like you are eating round your cool, famous mates house who has access to your Spotify account, and toilets that make her grin like she’s done something sordid.  With winter dating in full swing, top marks for taking reservations and not making us wait in the rain and with a new brunch menu for Saturdays perhaps we should all try and be a bit more Bobo Social.

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