While not hidden, the entrance isn’t entirely obvious. Once inside, it’s dimly lit and sexy with a New York in the noughties sensibility. They’ve got a lot more space to play in with two floors that mix warm and weathered (exposed brick and wood) with cool and modern (glass, marble & fashionable speakers suspended from the ceiling.) At opening, the place was empty and quiet. Hardly an hour later, the place was packed with pretty people and the music level rose with the animated chatter.
While they’ve diverged in decor, they’ve stuck with the formula that worked so well for them in the past: good drinks, wines and food. I kicked things off with a well-made martini and followed up with a Bronsolino (Monkey 47 gin with pickled onion cordial), which is much like a martini but with a slightly sweeter side. I also tried an aged negroni and was surprised (but not necessarily put off) by a more pronounced bitterness than I expect from a barrel aged version of this typically bitter drink.
Their menu of about 14 cocktails at 13 Euros each starts off with the Chicharito, which might be becoming the craft cocktail equivalent of the mojito. While each bar will call it something different, it’s always some version of tequila, cucumber & spice. And, I’m not knocking it. I’ve put back a few La Guepe Verte since Candelaria started off the trend and have gotten into plenty of trouble thanks to Red House’s Wild West Sides. So, I don’t begrudge the many bars who jump on that bandwagon.
The entire menu looks more to focus on cocktail quality rather than cutting edge. There are options that combine sure-fire pairings like bacon infused bourbon with maple syrup or employ modern but now well-known processes like centrifuged juice. Above each cocktail is an image of the glass in which it’s served. That’s always helpful because sometimes you want it up and sometimes you want it long and sometimes you don’t want to have to talk a lot to get it that way. They also have specific, literal descriptions – like “fresh, citrusy and lightly spicy” – to further aid in the drinker’s decision making process.
The food menu of about 20 plates from 8 to 14 Euros includes a range of options like mackerel, mushroom and hazelnuts or tandoori lamb shoulder. For something more francais you might go for foie gras, fromage or a plate of charcuterie.
They take online reservations, which I recommend. When a place is packed & popular, a little preplanning and patience are necessary. I’ve also heard from friends who had difficulty getting drinks without reservations. But, overall, it’s worth the bit of forethought to stop in for a taste.