Sunday, 28 November 2010

New in town: Eighty-Six, Cassis Bistro, Pommery E: Cube, Vista at The Trafalgar

The festive season is well and truly upon us, and with it a flurry of new bars and restaurants have arrived – some which will merely pop up and down again before the new year.

The last two weeks have been particularly busy on the launch front, so I thought I'd switch up my blogging style a bit with a round up of the hottest new openings around town. My first pitstop was at Eighty-Six restaurant, which opened last week in a converted Georgian townhouse on the Fulham Road, a space once occupied by the somewhat less salubrious Cactus Blue.

Founded by George Adams and Charlie Kearns, who cut their teeth at venues in Oxford and Verbier, Eighty-Six has lassoed Mark Broadbent of Bluebird fame as head chef, who was cooking up some quirky modern European comfort food on the opening night, including a rich, creamy lobster bisque and unctuous bone marrow served warm in the bone.

The three-tiered venue is a talking point in itself, beginning with a see-and-be-seen bar on the ground floor, up a spiral staircase to a smaller bar/lounge area filled with framed pictures of besuited, bushy tailed badgers and foxes, to the gold-panelled restaurant at the top, crowned by a mirrored ceiling. My visit was brief, but the canapés piqued my interest, and I'm keen to return to try the food.

Later last week I swung by the Pommery E: Cube bar, by way of the Winter Wonderland currently taking residence in Hyde Park. Walking through the fairground past wooden shacks selling everything from German brawürst and silly hats to Spanish churros, I got excited for the first time about Christmas. Europeans do Christmas markets with such flair, and it looks like we're finally catching on - even if we have to copy most of their culinary creations to make it work.

Inside the ultra violet E: Cube, the place is buzzing. The house music being belted out reverberates around the white padded walls, and it feels like I'm at some teenager's end of ski season wrap party. An intense smell of fondu permeates the cube. Rather than simply sniff it, I seek out the source, tear off some scraps of bread from a nearby loaf, and slather my plate with molten cheese.

Moving on to this week, on Tuesday I popped into the launch of Cassis Bistro on the Brompton Road in Knightsbridge. On arrival I spot Charles Campion keeping court, Champagne glass in hand. The space has a reassuringly casual air, with brown leather booths and simple gray brickwork. The food is traditional bistro fare - snails in pastry, scallop ceviche, an array of patés, hazelnut tarts - all very lovely, but haven't we seen it all before? I struggled to find a USP.

The night before I headed to the Vista roof bar at the Trafalgar Hotel, which has been given a Nordic makeover in time for Christmas in a hat tip to the Norwegian Christmas tree which will soon be furnishing Trafalgar Square. The erstwhile al fresco bar has been covered with a white canopy and filled with heaters, to keep the party people toasty all festive season, before it's dismantled on New Year's Day.

In keeping with the Nordic theme is a series of Scandi cocktails, including the devilish Fjord Escort made with Chambord, cream and cinnamon, and the dangerously delicious Stockholm Syndrome made with Hanger 1 poached pear vodka and Pommery Champagne, finished off with a fizzing sugar cube – after one sip I was sympathising.

1 comment:

  1. The chef and menu have changed at Eighty-Six but mine was a truly enjoyable experience. My review of Eighty-Six: