Open daily 10am–midnight
The ultimate west London shape-shifter; The Collection has been attracting wealthy Kensington and Chelsea party-goers for decades. Aptly, the enormous building was once a Porsche garage and its latest makeover from Brit designer Tom Dixon pays homage to its industrial past. After walking down the long, illuminated catwalk of an entrance you enter the main downstairs bar area. The fusion of concrete floors, exposed brickwork, grand faux-windows and creative use of textured metals (indicative of Dixon’s style) is reminiscent of a trendy New York loft bar. Low hanging copper pendant lights provide the black velvet booths with an intimate, cosy feel and smart and friendly staff complete the experience. As you sip on your cocktails your eyes can’t help but gravitate towards the metallic masterpiece that is the central feature chandelier. Created by Dixon, it’s a blinging mix of copper, silver and golden hues.
Having only been open a month, the new look Collection is still gaining momentum. On our Friday night visit the bar remained quiet until 9pm when young, trendy west Londoners made their way down the catwalk to prop up the bar and mingle in the booths. Early evening a stream of well-dressed city boys and glamorous girls made their way upstairs towards the grand mezzanine restaurant.
Whenever I see a ‘bar menu’ my heart sinks a little with visions of the pre-prepared, bland and overpriced nibbles that grace many of London’s bars. The Collection, on the other hand, offers a good range of southern Mediterranean titbits from European ‘olive oil countries’; think Cypriot halloumi, Spanish sherry-infused chorizo and Greek feta with Italian focaccia. Although our dishes were a little hit and miss, the star of the show was the moist, rich halloumi topped with a tangy guacamole and a hint of truffle (£7). The grilled spiced lamb sausage with flatbread and yoghurt (£6) was also a winner.
As much as I love the idea of Sex and the City-ing it up with a cosmo I’ve never really been a cocktail kind of girl. That was until I tried The Collection’s Ciao Tina Ciao (£10.95). The Champagne cocktail fuses star anise and vodka with pineapple and lime juice. The clarity of flavours and sophistication of delicate ingredients was addictive. The smooth aniseed flavour of the star anise mixed with the sage leaf which floated atop the cocktail cut through the sweet pineapple. A cocktail I had later in the evening came complete with a sprig of fresh rosemary.
The bar also has a great wine menu which, typical of the area and clientele, escalates quickly. Entry bottles start at around the £25 mark with wines by the glass from £6.50 up to about £20. I opted for a delicious but somewhat pricey Loire Valley Sancerre (£11.25), while my friend Alison enjoyed a fruity New Zealand Sauvignon (£9.25). As she sipped her wine contently she hit the nail on the head saying; ‘They really get the little details spot on here which allows the bigger things to shine’.
The fresh herbs that awaken the cocktails, the quality olive oils that envelope your plate in pungent aromas of rich sesame, the superbly helpful and welcoming staff and the aromatic Diptique and Aesop products in the bathrooms – it is these little touches that sets The Collection apart from its neighbours and makes it worth the extra dollar.