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Tuesday 14 May 2013

Mr.Fogg's - Propstore - Tamesis Dock

Saturday 11th May - The Bank Holiday sunshine seems a long time ago already.  I had hoped to go to the outdoor Dalston Roof Park but that was perhaps a tad optimistic.  So after some List investigation, I decided  to instead try out Mr.Fogg's in Mayfair - a new bar (soft opening - fully open 22nd May) that has been turned into Phileas J. Fogg's residence complete with a hot air balloon and hundreds of items that Mr.Fogg has collected and sent back on his travels.  I exchanged several verbose emails with Miss Lavinia Stewart-Brown, Secretary to Mr.Fogg, throughout the day to check that we could turn up.  Here is one of my favourites:

"Dear Mr Hickman,

I do hope this email finds you well and in exemplary health.

My sincere thanks for your gracious enquiry regarding paying a visit to Mr.Fogg's residence.  We are now attaining bookings from the 11th May onwards on select days.

Mr.Fogg is customarily ready to accept visitors from sixteen hundred hours and fifty nine minutes onwards.  The number of guests attending would be much appreciated.

If you could be so kind as to inform me if your party might desire a table in the Drawing Room I would be more than happy to make the necessary arrangements for you.  Should you wish to solely indulge in standing libation, that is fine and dandy.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any further queries and I keenly anticipate your reply,

Yours ever,

Miss Lavinia Stewart-Brown"

I met Team List (Lauren, Natalie and her flatmate Arwa - Maggie arrived later) at Green Park and we walked up to Berkeley Square and down a quiet side road.  Upon entering through the discreet front door, we were greeted by Passepartout (Mr. Fogg's French Valet) who took our coats and showed us in to the bar.  Our barman for the evening was the hilarious Fabiano Pereira who flitted in and out of character for our amusement.  After ordering a round of cocktails, Fabiano decided to give us a 'tour' of the house which basically involved him making up stories about the wall ornaments, including a particularly distressing tale of how Phileas' two dogs were inadvertently killed by a sick rabbit. As I took out my SLR camera, Fabiano asked me what this strange modern contraption was - perhaps a weapon of some kind?  Fabiano and Arwa also had lengthy conversations about knitting in the rocking chair.  They got the balance just right all night between committing to the theme (with tongue firmly in cheek) without forcing us to resort to amateur dramatics.

The drinks did not disappoint either, and the menu is still very much in development.  We worked our way through several cocktails (mostly whiskey / absinthe / rum based) with various garnish experiments and real bamboo straws.  Their plan is to have telegrams arriving regularly from Phileas, recommending new exotic spirits and cocktails to Passepartout as he moves round different parts of the world. It's hard to pick a favourite at this stage, as we weren't always sure what we were being brought!  When there was a cocktail mixup, the immaculately dressed Tobias Something Something came over and sorted us out.  The odd freebie also came our way from behind the bar as they are still fine tuning the drinks. Tobias frequently dropped by to chat to us about our thoughts on the music, the drinks and future ideas which made for a really interesting evening.  Hopefully some of our suggestions will turn up in the bar one day!  Food options are fancy sandwiches at present, but I don't know if there are plans to jazz this up a little.  Don't leave without a trip to the toilets, where a reading of Around the World in 80 Days is played non-stop.  This is no surprise as the bar is run by the the Inception group behind Barts (read about my visit here), Maggies (Thatcher speeches played in the toilets) and Bunga Bunga (Berlusconi Pizzeria Karaoke Bar).  Look out for Disco (70s Manhattan reborn) opening soon in Soho too.

Team List Leader with Tobias

When we eventually came to pay, Fabiano was intially "confused" by our bankcard devices - committed til the end!  When the bar opens fully on the 22nd, there should be even more exciting things on the menu, including sharing cocktails in a globe and train, but there is something special about going to a soft opening that you should try and experience if you can!  

A couple of us decided to head over to Propstore outside the National Theatre to end the evening, where we also met keen Team List participant, Harriet, who is trying to amass a good points total before departing for Vienna.  Propstore is a temporary bar for the summer (it opened for the first time last year) that is full of National Theatre props from shows running this year.  See some of our favourites in the photos below.  It is incredibly well placed overlooking the river, and has a lovely almost open air feel despite being covered.  There is also a tasty street-food style menu and a good selection of drinks (Meantime beer always goes down well, even if it is everywhere now).  

However, I wasn't expecting it to turn in to a cheesy bar/club later on!  This isn't normally my thing, but because it's in a stylish, bright bar and is full of thesps doing the macarena and generally trying to out do each other to be the most extrovert dancer, we ended up staying for 3 hours.  The tables off the dancefloor still have a relaxed cafe feel as opposed to being a dark lonely corner in a club, and people watching is just as fun as getting involved with some Whigfield group dancing.  There is no door charge and it is open late all summer long.  Is there anywhere more fun and relaxed for a cheap night out in London?  No planning required, just turn up anytime during the day and fall on to a train in Waterloo at the end of it!

Organised Thesp dancing
Monday 6th May - A quick mention for Tamesis Dock that I went to on Bank Holiday Monday with Natalie, Lauren and Jason for Harriet's birthday.  Tamesis Dock is a Dutch barge bar and music venue moored near Lambeth Bridge with great views over to the Big Ben and the London Eye.  The outside space is perfect for a sunny day (which we luckily had) but there is also a lot of space downstairs, including a stage and dancefloor.  This was an outside affair but the below deck bars look great fun too - check to see when live music is on.  I would say that it is probably worth eating before you arrive as the portions weren't overly generous, though the Gin and Tonic Sorbet is tempting! For more boat options, try out Battersea Barge not far away or Bar&Co near Temple.

Natalie moves further ahead of Sam on Team List with a grand total of 38 points so far.  Debut points for several aboard the Tamesis Dock, notably Miranda and Fiona adding to the impressive Wimbledon High School team total.  Fabiano and Tobias deserve a special mention for their fantastic service with a smile and laughs in Mr.Fogg's.  That brings me up to date!  I had better go somewhere tonight then...

Square Meal

Square Meal

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