Breakfast: Mon—Sat 7am—11am, Sun 8am—11am. Lunch: Mon—Fri 12pm—3pm, Sun 12.30pm—3.30pm. Dinner: Mon—Sat 6.30pm—11pm; Sun 6.30pm—10.30pm
The Rib Room Bar & Restaurant is part of the Jumeirah Carlton hotel on Cadogan Square. To put that in context, this is the bar of a Dubai-based luxury hotel brand in Knightsbridge — cut it open and it bleeds five-star. In fact just sidling up to the grand, marble-topped bar felt good. Yet despite its heritage and backing this is a surprisingly unpretentious set-up and, on a Tuesday evening, was gently buzzing with a mix of guests and the public.
Part of the reason for visiting the Rib Room was down to the Ryder Cup running through September and their launching two new cocktails to mark this, one representing America and one Europe (£16 each). The American offering was bourbon, Frangelico, orange marmalade and lemon juice served in a martini glass, and it was phenomenally good. The balance of alcohol, sweet and sour was fairly perfect. My partner for the evening, an old friend who runs two London cocktail bars, was palpably admirable. The European offering was Dewars whisky, Lochan Ora (a whisky liqueur), bitters and sugar served short over ice and was a rich, well-crafted take on an Old Fashioned, more than equal to its American counterpart.
With your cocktail you also get a 15-minute taster of ‘The Swing Room’, a golf simulator on the second floor of the hotel. Sadly on the night I attended this wasn’t available, but I was shown the machine and it is an impressive set up adjoining the huge, glass-roofed pool, which for golf fans would provide some chic city-centre practice.
Back at the bar we opted to order food from the bar menu, going for crab and lobster spring rolls (£12 for 8-10) and a trio of mini burgers (£12). There was quite a long wait for what seemed like pretty quick food to knock up but the bar staff kept us pumped full of mixed nuts and olives, replacing the empty dish with ninja-like speed.
When it did arrive the food was good, but not comparable to the standard of the cocktails. The lobster was barely discernable in the spring rolls, although there was a lot of white crab meat, and the mini burgers were just nice sliders — classic, caramelised onion and cheese in brioche buns. All very nice but lacking anything to justify their price, but I am told that the main menu and restaurant food is excellent.
To finish off we went for a cocktail from their extensive and very creative menu. Under headings such as ‘Drinking with Dickens’ and ‘London Dandies’, The Rib Room have cultivated a truly individual and exciting cocktail menu that would be a pleasure to explore — although, with an average price of £15, probably not a particularly frugal one. The Sloane Street Vesper (Pinky Vodka, Sipsmith’s gin, Americano Cocchi and Lillet Blanc) was an exceptionally well-balanced take on the traditional Vesper. And Help Yourself (Appleton Rum, Damson Gin, Crème de Cacao, Chocolate Bitters, Lemon Juice and Egg White) was a complex and more interesting version of a rum sours, dangerously drinkable.
The Rib Room is an exquisite bar/restaurant that smacks of sophistication and elegance. The décor is all opulent mirrors and dark wood, the bar staff wear three-piece suits and the restaurant, with its properly dressed tables and ornate lamps, is reminiscent of the Copacabana scene in Goodfellas.
It is old-school classy, serving very good drinks and you half-expect to walk in and find Frank Sinatra ordering bourbon on the rocks or James Bond drinking a Martini. In fact, on the night I was there an older man, impeccably dressed in a tuxedo and patent shoes, came in for dinner: it was Sir Roger Moore. And yes, he ordered a Martini.