Friday 17th January - Dry January? Why would you stop drinking in the most depressing month of the year? I feel it is The List's duty to soldier on and support these poor businesses that are needlessly being shunned. Feeling fat? Run to a pub that is further away than your local. One smart friend suggested that publicans should hand out tokens to punters in January giving loyal customers priority seating in December when all the boring people come out to play too. Anyone out there brave enough to give that a go?
Anyway, last Friday, I met Team List regular Sam and debutant Jen in Liverpool Street for some mid-January drinks. We started at Discount Suit Company, a lively new cocktail bar in an old tailor's store room. Trust your instincts as you walk along the deserted Wentworth Street, and look for the big shop sign (see below). Head through the door and downstairs, past the superfluous member of staff that pulls a curtain back and forth, and get stuck into one of their £7.50 house cocktails.
It was already packed by the time we arrived, so get there early if you want a seat. The atmosphere was great all round, but having one of the cosy tables would definitely improve the evening and is essential for anyone pushing 6ft! We appreciated the plethora of coat hooks around the bar, particularly suitable (sorry) given the name. If you find yourself near the toilets, don't play with the random lock on a seemingly unused door - I accidentally locked in a bartender, who marched off blaming her manager.
I could have drunk the mezcal-based Pina Fumada (Smoked Pineapple) all night, but there are several other tempting concoctions such as Goldfish Bathtub with Earl Grey infused gold rum, brandy and lemon. Bottled beers are less exciting and slightly overpriced but most of the Liverpool Street crowd won't care. It's a great little spot to take someone to off the beaten track, and an easy place to spend a whole evening.
Next up was dinner at Bones, a new restaurant & bar with sharing food and rotisserie chicken at the Hoxton end of Kingsland Road. Here we were joined by 13th placed Cassie and two more first timers, Caroline & Andy. Newbie Caroline nearly took herself off to Leicester Square due to a misleading Google maps entry so, whilst we were waiting, we worked our way through the superb Redwell bottled beers on offer which I can't recommend highly enough - the IPA is particularly fine. Also, after growing very attached to unlimited bottles of Grenache red wine in St.Anton a couple of weeks ago, we were delighted to find several varieties of it on the list at Bones.
Once everyone had arrived we ordered a great range of plates to share which worked very well. The Crispy Pigs Ears were a little too reminiscent of, well, pigs ears, and the Ceviche didn't stand out, but everything else was rather wonderful. The simple Rotisserie Chicken was beautifully flavoured, Pigeon breast salad with toasted hazelnuts disappeared very quickly, and the Squid & Chorizo Sourdough Bruschetta was keenly fought over. Sam was however pretty devastated when the variety of foods on his plate caused him to inadvertently eat a mouthful containing a key piece of halloumi that he had been saving for the end - first world problems.
Service was definitely on the slow side but I'm sure they will find their feet soon enough. Considering we were next to the bar, getting a glass of Grenaaaaaaache seemed to be a very complicated process. We nearly had a mousse-related death when Cassie wasn't warned that her dessert contained nuts - luckily she spotted it. Several of us enjoyed a portion of their Deep Apple Pie which was cinnamon heavy in a good way.
It's a great looking place and the prices are very reasonable. The sharing plates are interesting and will change regularly, and their rotisserie chicken stands up well to likes of Chicken Shop. I would like to see the Redwell beers or something local on tap rather than in bottles, but that's not a deal-breaker - well worth a visit.
We lost Sam and Jen at this point as our last stop was a bus ride away at F.Cooke's Pie and Mash shop on Broadway Market. By day, this classic London establishment that is over 100 years old serves up pie, mash, liquor and eels to hungry punters, but at night they hand over to various popups. According to scientist Cassie, all eels mysteriously originate from the same source which has never been found. She also claimed that they occasionally crawl across land - she lost my trust at this point.
Back to last Friday - At the moment, Peters & Co. Gin Palace have the keys and are running a relaxed candlelit gin bar from 7pm-1am, every Thursday-Saturday for the foreseeable future. There is food available, currently in the form of well-sourced platters, but pies may soon make it on to the evening menu. There are also Harviestoun beers and Chapel Down wines on the menu to keep the gin-haters happy.
|Current F.Cooke owner Bob Cooke|
We started with a round of ridiculously affordable £4.50 Sipsmith & Fevertree G&Ts - you won't find much better value in London. There are several gin cocktails on offer including Negronis, Martinis and a Bob Cooke Bramble named after the current owner, but we decided to continue with some of their premium gins for a second round of G&Ts, this time priced at £7. Death's Door and Monkey 47 were the runaway winners. I need to return sometime to try the Aviation Rye and the Botanist Islay Gin which wasn't available as someone came in and bought the whole bottle! They plan to expand the range over the next few weeks, and there are also going to be masterclasses and tastings - check their Facebook page for more info.
My one bit of advice would be, bring a cushion! The bench seats in F.Cooke's must be amongst the least comfortable in London, probably there to keep anyone from lingering too long in the daytime! Peters & Co. is another fun place to sample a wide range of gins, joining the likes of City of London Distillery, 214 Bermondsey and London Gin Club.
Team List update: 2 points for Sam take him back up to 3rd place, joint with Lee. How long can he hang on to that spot? Cassie moves up to joint 13th, her highest position on the leaderboard so far.
In other news, isn't this a horrible name for a restaurant?
|Scoff & Banter|
One friend suggested that we set up a rival establishment next door called Boff & Scanter. "It would be full of highly intelligent people but with woefully inadequate supplies of food and drink". Who's up for crowd-funding this?