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Friday 26 April 2013

Social Eating House Opticians - Reason & Mankind - Size Matters - Ain't Nothin' But

Friday April 19th - Team List (Natalie, Harriet, Sam, Libby and myself) assembled early last Friday at 16.30 in The Crown and Two Chairmen on Dean Street to plan our evening in Soho. It's a great pub for beer and a good place to start if you are heading out nearby.  After a pint of Hoptimus Prime, some Sierra Nevadas and a Proper Job, we moved on.

Earlier in the day I received an email from The Nudge about the public opening of Social Eating House (set up by Pollen Street Social owner Jason Atherton).  Most of the fuss was about the restaurant (which was already booked up) but I was more interested in their hidden upstairs bar.  Look for the Opticians sign on Poland Street and go through the door with a blind pig on it.  Natalie and I tried to pop in before the pub, but they informed us that they were not opening until 17.30 (they are normally open from 12am-12pm).  We returned at 17.31.

We sat down at the bar in front of several barmen who I think we caught off guard.  They confirmed that we were indeed the first ever paying customers!  Feeling smug, we got down to business and worked our way through some of their cocktails.  I started with the Thermo-Nuclear Daquiri (see picture below) as I couldn't resist a cocktail that listed 'glowing radiation' and 'danger' amongst its ingredients.  They clearly love a good pun (Kindergarten Cup, Cereal Killer, Piscotheque, Robin Hood Quince of Thieves, Dill or No Dill etc) so they were distraught when Harriet failed to understand the reference and required pronunciation for 'Wi' Jam In'.

Thermo-Nuclear Daquiri
Other highlights included the Cereal Killer cocktail containing coco pops milk served in a milk carton shaped glass, and the Silver Screen which had a mini bucket of popcorn attached.  We benefited from being at the bar as a couple of imperfect drinks for other customers were passed our way.  We also had a good chat with the staff, who all seemed to hail from the North which went down especially well with fiercely Northern Natalie and Libby.  We inquired about the piggy on the door and they explained that they had hoped to call the bar 'Blind Pig' (another term for a speakeasy) but had discovered slightly too late in the day that there was already a bar with the same name (which you can find in The Anthologist near Bank).  Our bill was presented in a piggybank with tape over its eyes - my second pig-based bill after Opium presented theirs in an ornate piggybank.  I would imagine that the bar will end up being known as Opticians to people in the know - a bit catchier than Social Eating House Bar.

Cereal Killer
Silver Screen

We stayed for a couple of rounds as the banter with the mixologists was flowing.  We had a sneaky peak at their sharing cocktails - Soho Chic (on the menu) is served in a bottle in a brown bag and comes with 4 glasses that are shaped like bent, disposable plastic ones - at one stage it was going to be called Soho Tramp. They were also not quite ready to serve one in a bathtub with glow in the dark ducks and edible bubble bath!  We didn't order any of the bar food this time around, but I would guess that they rustle up some pretty tasty snacks in the restaurant downstairs.  A random girl who had also received the email from The Nudge turned up and joined us at the bar for a while.  She had a plate of something that she seemed to enjoy!  Try and head over there before the whole world does.

Piscotheque and Buck Stops Here
Kindergarten Cup

We headed back outside where the sun was still shining, and wandered up the road to find Reason & Mankind, a new unmarked bar that has opened recently in connection with The Libertine Club (occupying the space left behind by Chinawhite).  Look for the bouncer on Winsley Street and ask if you can head down to the bar.  You can reserve a space, but it wasn't too busy when we want considering it was a Friday night.  We again sat at the bar so that we could chat to our host and see the magic happen.  I went for a ridiculous cocktail ('Top Hat and Tails') that appeared from inside a smoking hat, whilst Sam's Mezcal based cocktail was left for him to mix himself with a giant syringe.  They are in the process of coming up with a new menu so I can't guarantee that the ones we had will be there, but I am certain that they will be exciting either way!

Wait for it...

The girls formed some sort of witches coven at this point and starting rating potential suitors around the room.  Meanwhile, Sam and I spotted that there was an 'anti-griddle' machine behind our barman.  He seemed eager to show it off (one of the many treats that they have inherited from Chinawhite) and so mixed up a small cocktail to make use of it.  He put down two small sticks, and poured out a small measure of the cocktail which formed a circle at the top of the stick and very quickly became an ice lolly!  I might have to get one.

We decided to head off in search of food, not really expecting to get in anywhere particularly exciting.  We found ourselves at The Sun and 13 Cantons which was on my list because of their popup food residency 'Size Matters' that was being run by the Criterion Restaurant nearby.  It looked horrendously busy, but the witches battled their way through and somehow ended up with two lovely sofas.  The premise of the popup is that you can order your starter/main/dessert in small, medium or large as you wish.  Do you want something enormous to yourself? Do you want to share lots of little things?  The choice is yours.  For example, my medium fish and chips had two pieces of fish and two portions of chips!  Harriet's medium burger option landed her 3 burgers - we can only assume that the large burger option would be 4.5 burgers?  The food was fantastic and the concept added some fun to the meal.  Size Matters is on til 4th June - I highly recommend dropping by.  You can book a table most days - check their website for details on booking and opening times.


Harriet takes the credit for our last stop, Ain't Nothin' But - an American blues bar on Kingly Street.  There is apparently always a queue but it moves along fairly quickly.  We queued for 15-20 mins which isn't too bad considering it was '1 in, 1 out'.  Sam had disappeared with my friend Lee by this point (who turned up at The Sun and 13 Cantons) as he had a party to go to.  Once inside we grabbed some drinks and headed towards the tiny stage.  The band (bass, harmonica/vocals, percussion. guitar) was excellent and the audience was very appreciative.  We eventually made our way to the very front and on to a table with fantastic sight lines to the band.  It is open til 2.30 on Fridays and Saturdays and is a great alternative to going clubbing.  We started to flag around 11pm since we started so early so we didn't stay til closing this time, but I can see it happening in the future!

Thanks to the Witches of Soho (Natalie, Libby and Harriet - 5 points each) and to Sam for keeping me company.  Natalie has overtaken Tim at the top of Team List. Dark Horse Sam has also caught up.  What's your next move Tim?

Shoreditch Trip #5 Blog from Tuesday coming soon! I'm also off to Street Feast London hopefully tonight and possibly Midnight Apothecary on Saturday.

Square Meal

Square Meal


  1. Loving the Blog at the moment, I'm celebrating my birthday with my Girlfriend on 28th September 2013,

    what cocktail bars would you recommend in the soho area with a quirky look to it like reason and mankind?

    1. Hey there,

      Apologies for huge delay - Blogger decided to send your comment straight to the spam folder! I hope you found somewhere good to go! Thanks for reading and getting in touch. Hopefully I can be of more help next time!



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