Wednesday 14th August - September is going to be a crazy month for restaurant openings, with at least 30 already scheduled. The Chop Shop has just opened after a lengthy soft opening period which I took full advantage of with my university friend Louise who has finally opened her Team List account. I managed to mess up the booking, but they very kindly squeezed us in anyway.
We enjoyed 25% off our bill and a cocktail on the house courtesy of a Nudge promotion, so we started off at the bar with a very entertaining barman. He made Louise a beautifully layered Royal Blush for which he received a high five as it was the first successful attempt after a few tweaks. My Passione Arribiata with chilli infused tequila was equally impressive. We also all had a taste of their celery infused gin (for a Celery Gimlet) as it was finally ready to try. We eventually tore ourselves away and headed downstairs for food.
We covered their Chops & Steaks section by getting a chop and a steak, with 2 of their fantastic free house sauces (Creamy Horseradish and Vodka Bacon Peppercorn) with some chips to share. Other food coming out looked fantastic too, especially the White Label Burger pictured below. Their menu seems to have changed a fair amount since we visited though so don't go expecting everything that you can see here.
We didn't waste much time getting through our delicious mains, with some bubbly and a bottle of the excellent Honkers Ale on the side. The decor downstairs isn't quite as exciting as upstairs but there is still a good atmosphere and you aren't too packed in. I would happily go back as I wanted nearly everything on the menu, though it is fairly pricey when compared to say Flat Iron in Soho. We moved on without dessert as we had a reservation at Milk and Honey that was approaching fast.
Milk & Honey made the transfer from New York and opened in Soho in 2002, long before the current wave of speakeasy style / hidden cocktail bars set up shop. It is a members club most of the week, but non members can book for the first half of the week, before 11pm. It stays open til 3am every night, but only for members and their guests. The membership also gives you access all areas to the other Rushmore Group bars and restaurants (Player Bar, Danger of Death, Rotary, Redhook, Giant Robot) that are dotted around London. You have probably walked past Milk & Honey on Poland Street several times as the door is completely unmarked - look for the door next to the Star & Garter pub, with M & H written on the buzzer.
The staff were all very welcoming and sat us down in the beautifully lit ground floor bar (almost as dark as Happiness Forgets!). It is hard to take a picture which conveys the atmosphere, which is a good thing. Go and find out for yourself. There was a hint of incense which also gave it a sense of familiarity and cosiness. There are other bars and even a games room on other floors, but most of that is members only. We spent a long time making our choices from an excellent cocktail menu, mainly getting distracted by their silly house rules ("No talking about fighting", "Gentlemen will remove their hats, hooks are provided" etc), before eventually deciding upon a Dempsey and a Pisco Punch.
A huge amount of effort goes into the drinks here and it really shows. All juices and extracts and made on site by hand, glasses and mixing equipment is frozen at -30C, and ice is cut from a twice frozen block of mineral water. The bar staff and waiters are all very relaxed and calm, and it rubs off on the guests. We chatted for a while to one waiter. They have to stay up until 2pm even if it is empty on the off chance that a group of members turn up for one final drink which must be frustrating! As it was a school night for Louise, we paid up (drinks very reasonably priced at £9/10) and headed back out on to Poland Street, each with a menu souvenir which you are encouraged to take home with you.
It wouldn't be a night in Piccadilly without Cinnabon, and Louise had never been so it was the perfect excuse to indulge with yet another ridiculous Cinnamon bun before hopping on the tube home. Chop Shop and Milk & Honey were a perfect pair, and hopefully soon I will be putting up a List Map so that you can plan your own routes around London. If you have any other suggestions for making this an easier resource to use (a proper Navbar is on its way), then please get in touch.