I don’t know if anyone else remembers the Absolut vodka adverts? With Victoria Silvstedt? In the fur bikini?
Because I do and it’s what sprang to mind on Saturday evening when I was eagerly chucking a martini down my throat in an effort to restore my body to non-critical temperature. I was bundled up, feeling like a be-furred Swede with an igloo in the background.
For the second year running, the Queen of Hoxton has staged its WigWamBam: a wigwam on its roof terrace complete with suspended barbecues, fallen logs for seating and marshmallow toasting. Having been to the roof only once before at the height of the English ‘summer’, I can safely say that, had I not known better, I could easily have been fooled into thinking this venue wholly new to me. It wasn’t packed out, which may have diminished the atmosphere. Also, and this royally pees me off: they weren’t taking plastic.
The wigwam bar had a non-existent menu: hot buttered rum, cider or margaritas (in plastic cup). The main bar was as varied and as playful as ever: I had a fabulous strawberry martini in the coldest glass known to man. Then again, it’s like that Christmas morning feeling: by God, today WILL be great and I WILL love everything and I WILL have ZERO regrets. Then, inevitably, something hits the fan and no amount of denial will lead to success and you have to fake joy to yourself and present company?
Yup. That is the exec summary of the wigwam. The surroundings were certainly different and unusual – great for a first date: open fire, snuggling, making smores. However, when you’re out on a cocktail night, cocktails are kind of a pre-requisite. Unfortunately, no amount of attempts at persuading myself that plastic drinking vessels were ironic and deftly parodying our current economic climate (snooze) could hold me firmly to my seat. With the beverage disappointment growing thicker than Julia Roberts’ armpit hair, we had to GTFO and go further east.
Speak-Easy “Secret” Entrance
The Breakfast Club in Spitalfields is old news. I love Americana kitsch and retro throwbacks…but not to the point where the retro means the computer system has crashed, they’re doing handwritten orders/bills and, consequently, the staff are so pissed off that they’re getting rude with the customers. We stood in line for 15 minutes, despite there being 3 open booths. They were seating solo diners on tables for 4!
The food was as you would expect. Not at all complicated and designed solely with alcohol-absorption in mind. Minimal risk of horsemeat, so two thumbs up from me. I don’t really understand why they slapped a spit-ball of cheese on my room temp pulled pork bun, but, by this time, being a hundred sheets to the skin-annihilating wind (thank Christ for aesop’s camellia nut cream), I was happy to chow down. We only really sat to eat in order to get to the speak-easy downstairs: the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town. The cocktails in the restaurant weren’t cutting it (the espresso martini I ordered came in a half-empty glass. No, literally)
The not-so-secret bar downstairs is lots of fun.
We mainly plumped for a Posh Paddington cocktail: marmalade, Grand Marnier, lemon, egg white, champagne, absinthe and angostura served in a lidded jar. Consequently, the name will also lead you to a host of brunette escorts in the west of London. Awk.
The interior is kitsch and ‘look at how zany I am’, but it’s all part of the fun. Deliriously camp and OTT. The music was a great mix of 1990s dance, old school and contemporary sheez that I am far too square to identify. In essence, it was ‘bust a groove’ stuff…and, crucially, at the perfect volume. Light petting seemingly permitted:
My alcohol tolerance must have sky-rocketed, because, at this point, we were 4 hours into the night and I was becoming increasingly sober…and not happy about it. We hot-footed to the Heron for a night-cap at Duck and Waffle. Alas, it was rammed with eurotrash and men with facial hair that looked as if it had been drawn on with my 13 year old self’s eye liner. Had there been a Mizz magazine and Nokia 3310 near the bar, I wouldn’t have been surprised. From the floor above, we spied free tables at SushiSamba and so convinced ourselves we needed dessert. A cunning plan to snare a seat whilst we sipped!
Having been to SushiSamba (nearly abbreviated that to SS…not that wise given the South American
war criminal fugitives link) for business lunches, I was glad to be back again without the restraint of a) having to remain sober or b) deferring to someone else’s tastes. The mochi (ice cream-filled) were gorgeous. The perfect refreshing end to the night. The sake salmon sashimi was artfully presented.
I don’t know why they didn’t serve their usual Fiji still water, but I was far more concerned with trying to pick out where in the city I’ve previously lived, had a great night, had an horrendous night or done something to tell the grandchildren about.
I’ve got the same irk with this resturant: the light fixtures make me feel like I’m in B&Q c. 1991. This is probably of benefit to the multitude of serious and serial poseurs…but again, in-keeping with that night’s theme, it was a welcome part-and-parcel. There’s no better evening than one camper than a row of pink tents.