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Sunday 2 June 2013

Botanical Gin Garden at Carom - Azulito - Gelupo

Saturday 25th May - Anyone who read my last post will know that the first half of Saturday was spent with faux-Parisians eating eggs in the sky, drinking cocktails on a barge, and playing Micro Machines in a Sega Megadrive disco bar in King's Cross.  So when I met Team List Leader Natalie in the evening for some unplanned Soho bar hopping adventures, I wasn't feeling very lively.  I soldiered on (life is tough) and we made our way to the new indoor Botanical Gin Garden in Carom at Meza on Wardour Street.

The reception bar area has been transformed into a garden-inspired lounge with a special Gin based cocktail menu on offer.  The most interesting thing on the menu is the DIY Collins which encourages you to go around picking botanicals to give to the barman so that he can concoct something on the spot.  Natalie and I both chickened out of this as we weren't in the mood for stealing botanicals of other peoples tables, and we also wanted something reliable from the menu.  It is a fun idea though.  Our Tanqueray No.10 based cocktails were incredibly refreshing and drinkable, and as a result didn't last very long.

The garden is attached to Carom (restaurant) at Meza (bar) which has also been in my sights since you can play Carrom there (like pool with draughts that I recently got addicted to) whilst you eat/drink.  Downstairs is Floridita - a Latin American restaurant/bar/music venue/club that has some good stuff on.  Go for the weekday 3 course Mojito and music set menu.  They currently have a Rum Shack lounge down there too with many rums and cocktails served in monkey adorned coconuts - looks fun but probably pretty pricey.

Carrom at Carom at Meza
Floridita Rum Shack

We only stayed for one as it had already been an expensive day, so we moved a few doors down the road to have a quick look in Azulito underneath Wahaca - a colourful Mexican tequila bar with free table football (which suddenly makes Café Kick's £1 per game tables seem very expensive).  We went to the bar to get a couple of Negra Modelos (my new favourite beer since the Mexican invasion of London) and returned to find the tables busy.  I asked three Italians if we could play after them.  The rest is history.

Two hours later and Marta, Valentino and Carlo were our new best friends.  Valentino gave out (much needed) foosball tips to Natalie, Carlo took my number in case he wanted violin lessons, whilst Marta added Natalie on Facebook so that we could meet up again for more table football.  Teams were rotated, one game was played without our glasses (aren't we crazy?) and so on.  Marta told us tales of how she used to be rubbish at table football before Carlo made her practice 3 hours a day - it worked.  The atmosphere in Azulito was fantastic and we weren't interrupted by anyone wanting to play all night.  Perhaps the tables are new and haven't been discovered yet, but it was very relaxed for a Friday night.  We didn't even get to the tequila.  More Negra Modelos were consumed by all before we eventually hung up our tiny boots and spilled back out on to Wardour Street.  

After an emotional goodbye to Marta and the boys, Natalie and I decided to get some gelato (continuing the Italian theme) rather than try to top Azulito with another bar.  We went round the corner to join the queue for Gelupo (popular late night gelateria owned by excellent Bocca di Lupo restaurant opposite).  This turned out to be the queue just to get in the door, the ice cream queue went right from the other end of the bar.  One passer by who looked in to see what everyone was queuing for said "Oh, it's just ice cream".  I, still fired up from numerous dramatic games of babyfoot, replied "JUST Ice Cream?  It's only the best ice cream in London".  I have no idea if that is true.  I have never eaten there before.  

There are many quirky flavours alongside some classics - I'm amazed Natalie resisted the Kiwi, Gin and Elderflower option.  My earlier claim may well have been correct - our selections were truly delicious.  I will obviously have to go to every other gelateria before I know for sure, but they are going to have a tough job topping Gelupo, especially considering it is open til 12.30!  I had Salted Caramel & Pecan and Hazelnut, whilst Natalie went Ricotta & Sour Cherry and Bonet (chocolate with coffee, egg yolks, rum, caramel, amaretti biscuits and vanilla).

More cheeeeese, Gromit?
We licked our way back to Piccadilly, spotting Jamie Oliver's new pop up Diner and Dog House en route.  It is apparently open for 3 years so no rush on that one.  Big thanks must go to our new Italian friends, I hope they are reading and we see them again!  Natalie extends her lead to 15 points (Natalie 43, Sam 28, Tim 27) and is looking far too comfortable for my liking.  Who is going to mount a serious challenge in the second half of the year?

Square Meal Square Meal

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