Open 5pm–late daily
The team behind award-winning Asian-French restaurant L’Etranger has opened a 40-cover bar, lounge and dining room in the basement of the restaurant, aiming to be ‘younger and more spirited’ than its much-loved sister.
It’s an impressive space designed by Andy Martin, with a Belle Époque-inspired LED ceiling by award-winning illustrator Noumeda Carbone, sandstone floors, marble floors, and the outstanding wine selection is shown off along several walls – it’s rather like a chic five-star hotel bar. The dining area feels intimate with smart banquettes, a Belle Époque-style screen and dimmed lighting, but there’s an Ibiza-inspired soundtrack to liven things up.
A smart crowd of 30-something friends and couples were dining during our visit, within a few days of opening.
Head chef Sang Keun Oh’s full menu is similar to L’Etranger. The boyf ordered a platter of oysters (including Maldon, Colchester, Duchy and Japanese) served with raspberry shallot vinegar (around £14) to start, while I had a five-tomato salad, balsamic caviar (balsamic balls that burst in the mouth), basil and tomato sorbet with truffled-infused burrata (£14.50). It had been a while since I’d had such an exciting dish. A top-notch burger platter (think Charolais and wagu; £12.50) followed for the boyf; while I had a miso-grilled aubergine with ponzu and aubergine caviar (£9.50) which was as good a dish as any choice at my favourite Japanese restaurant.
There are 40 homemade desserts, including a mouth-watering selection of macaroons and sorbets (all £1.50 each) – we greedily selected salted caramel, coconut and liquorice macaroons, plus granny smith sorbet.
‘All the best wines are here,’ the boyf said, after a few minutes perusing the weighty tome of a wine list (1,600-bin with eight available by the glass, including a different Meursault each week). Sake and a good selection of Champagne are also available.
I started with The Alchimist (Hendricks Gin, melon liqueur crushed with fresh cucumber, lemon juice and honey dew melon, sweetened with apple blossom honey; £12.50) while the boyf braved the Marengo (Wyborowa Lemon Vodka and Cointreau with freshly pressed satsuma wedges with a touch of mild spring onion, spiced up with homemade red chilli syrup; £12.50), which was actually very good.
I recommend rounding off with a fab molecular cocktail – a bit of popping candy and nitrogen dioxide doesn’t fail to bring out the (sophisticated) kid in you.