Tag Archives: bar

Callooh Callay bar, 65 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3AY, and the joy of cocktails

Fellow she-blogger Caroline, No and I bonded over our love of The Last Waltz and decided to meet up to discuss fashion, food and Dr John. It was my first platonic blogger date but the problem with two anonymous bloggers meeting is that it is very hard to find each other (hint – we both had the same camera. Losers). You can read Caroline’s review of the evening here.

The venue was Callooh Callay bar, a Shoreditch cocktail bar on my London wishlist and about which I’d heard great things. It’s on Rivington Street which is home to my favourite club Cargo (sadly unvisited in a while) and just a hop, skip and a jump from Favela Chic, Great Eastern Dining Rooms and Cantaloupe. So far, so trendy.

Mix tapes! Oh how I miss you…and a sneaky peak of the HPL, through the looking glass

Caroline and I got stuck into the comfy seats and the cocktail menu and the sushi (which was actually very good) and were well taken care of. The staff were lovely and knowledgeable about all things cocktail – they’ve won awards for inventing them (see the ale of two cities) and hold regular drinks events. My knowledge of hard liquor is sadly lacking, highlighted by my response to what type of vodka I prefered (er…smirnoff? grey goose?). Inside its a cute and quirky Alice-through-the-looking-glass-bar where you go through the lion witch wardrobe to another comfy lounge and where the toilets are lined with mix tapes – mix tapes! Cue nostalgic ranting about the art of the mix tape and admiration of some great old tunes being played – Morcheeba’s Trigger Hippy, Mary J Blige’s I’m Going Down.

Alejandro Sour with a sushi chaser

I’m typically a bottle-of-white-wine-with-the-girls kind of gal and to be honest, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with cocktail bars. I hate the thought that I’m being ripped off (undoubtedly the Scot in me) but I love the taste and the kick you get. I love the fact that cocktails are for slow appreciation not glugging. I hate the pretension of some cocktails places but I love the sophistication of a beautiful looking drink in a nice glass – it feels special.  And whoever came up with putting olives in a martini should receive some sort of prize. I lived in Prague once and they have fantastic cocktail bars – cheap and delicious and fun. But why would you pay £9 for a cocktail – what is it about them thats so good?

Mai Tai

Vodka martini – perfect taste only in a nicer glass purlease?

Well for the sake of experiment, dear reader, we decided to try one, no two, no three, ok then last one four, cocktails – hic. Everything from a recommended  alejandro sour to a mai tai to my FAVOURITE cocktail ever, a vodka martini with a huge green olive and finally a peach prosecco. They were all uniformly delicious with a lovely kick, my favourite being the martini which  either means I’m really boring or really cool in the manner of James Bond. Yes they aren’t cheap but it got me thinking – if a bottle of average plonk is like a cup of tea then a good cocktail is like a good coffee – special and a bit sexy and you only need one (or, er, four) to get a lovely warm buzz. And Callooh Callay is undoubtedly the perfect place to try cocktails. If you don’t believe me, next week is London Cocktail Week – an open invitation to go try it for yourselves.

Caroline and I were guests of Callooh Callay bar. (Guests who wouldn’t leave. Oops.)

Calloh Callay on Urbanspoon

Best of Clapham (IMHO) – Volume 1


Here is a snapshot of my favourite places to go in Cla’am (disclaimer: some of which may not be as good as they used to be!).

The Landor – my great friend Niki and I lived pretty much opposite (and in) The Landor for about 3 years.  Good old man’s pub with pool tables, where you can always get a seat and some decent pub grub.  Has a huge beer garden that is inexplicably neglected in favour of the packed Falcon and it even has its own theatre which recently showed the critically acclaimed “Stockwell”.   The roasts are perhaps not as good as somewhere like the Calf but its still a chilled out comfy place for a quiet pint.

La Terraza – Awesome authentic Spanish tapas bar, restaurant and music venue on Bedford Road.  I’ve been in with El Grumpo and also with some drunken friends having spilled out of The Falcon and both times had a wicked night – great food, regulars at the bar, keyboard players doing Spanish music and a collection of locals dancing the salsa.  Has a terrace outside in summer where I drool over people eating calamares with a cold beer. 
La Terraza on Urbanspoon

The Loft Run by the brilliant recently-refurbished Plan B guys, it bizarrely won Time Out’s best bar prize and I wouldn’t go that far, but during the week it is a great spot for drinks with mates in a “New York” warehouse style bar with views over Clapham high street.  Good cocktails, lounge seats and music but the food is average at best, and at weekends it’s packed.   They are currently doing 2 courses for £2 on their winter restaurant menu and 50% off roasts on Sundays. 
Loft on Urbanspoon

The Calf – dark and almost gothic with wooden floors and tables and velvet curtains, the Calf has an amazing selection of beers, cider and wine, really good pub grub and roasts, lovely bar staff and with board games liberally strewn around and large comfy sofas, the sort of place you can roll up, curl up and stay all day.
Calf on Urbanspoon

Cafe Cairo – this is apparently now closed because of a fire but in case it has re-opened I wanted to include it as it was probably the most interesting place in Clapham.  It had an upstairs Moroccan tent style room where you sat on the floor while drinking red wine, smoking a shishah and eating humous, merguez, pitta and greek salad.  Small room downstairs with crazy house DJs and wild party crowd.  Post-smoking ban they appeared to simply cut a whole in the roof but not sure how shishah smoking would continue in winter.  Lets hope it re-opens!
Cafe Cairo on Urbanspoon

The Stonhouse comfy, cosy warm pub to go for delicious steaks and red wine. 
The Stonhouse on Urbanspoon

Four O Nine – Impeccable service and posh grub just above the Clapham North.  Great for taking your mum, your best friend and for a date.  Pretty much permanent 50% off food through toptable so if it’s struggling, take advantage before it disappears.  Not as good as Upstairs on Acre Lane though.
Four O Nine on Urbanspoon

Clapham Picturehouse – lovely local cinema featuring interesting mix of films and a homely little bar.  Or try the Brixton Ritzy, its sister cinema, which is housed in a sprawling old Victorian building with quirky bar and roof terrace.  Sadly, ticket prices aren’t cheap but that seems to be across the board in London.

Fish Club – Fab fish and chips in a minimal, basic restaurant.  Potted crab, battered haddock and plaice with fish and chips and musy peas are all delicious and fresh – I’d like to go back to try the grey mullet, bream and seafood.  
Fish Club on Urbanspoon

Secondo – great vintage clothes shop under the arches next to Clapham High Street station.   Great cakes, quiches and pies, and great selection of vintage clothes, shoes and furniture.   Also check out their Brixton sister shops.

Tsunami – stylish Japanese restaurant on Voltaire road.  Good selection of sushi and sashimi and great mains like black cod and Wasabi steaks.
Tsunami on Urbanspoon

Esca – buzzing deli with large sharing tables and a great selection of sandwiches, cakes and salads.  Good to pick up a coffee and read the paper, and to buy nice ground coffee and other kitchen treats.  Not cheap though!
Esca on Urbanspoon

Special mentions go to The Falcon (old favourite but don’t like the new squished up garden and suddenly full of very young people, either that or I’m suddenly older eek), El Rincon Latino (good tapas bar), Belgo Bierodrome (yummy moules frites), So:UK and the White House (both were very good “back in the day” for girlie cocktails and a dance),  Traders (beer and dim sum, great combination), Gastro (authentic French restaurant with decent food and great wines served in cute little tumblers, sadly a little overpriced), Metro (romantic garden restaurant) and Arch 639 (for having a name we always got wrong and managing to combine good DJs and pool with the narrowest bar in the world – weekend nights sometimes a bit hit or miss though).  Aquum is nice in summer to sit outside and drink wine, although the white leather seats and poncey bouncers put me off going at any other time.  Infernos was my special place during law school but no longer will I cross its threshold.

I’m also dying to try Breads Etcetera for its wonderful sounding breakfasts including Scandanavian breakfast with fish roe, cheese and ham and DIY toast – yum.

The Gramaphone, 60-62 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, London E1 6LT (http://www.thegramaphone.co.uk/)

The Gramaphone is a great find.  It’s on Commercial Street about 5 mins along the road from the Truman Brewery.  Upstairs, there’s a bar with very friendly staff and great wine (cheap at around £13-15 a bottle), which serves good Thai food during weeknights and is quiet enough you can get a seat and have a natter.  Last Thursday, I was there with my friend Pip and had yummy dumplings and spring rolls as a bar snack. 

On Fridays, there’s various DJs playing good tunes  – I’m afraid last time I was in on a Friday, its all rather hazy thanks to the 2 for 1 before 7pm offer at Scarlett Dot in Spitalfields market, but I think it was hip hop, there were tons of people there and everyone was having a good old dance. Very relaxed atmosphere – I seem to recall falling over a sofa, which they were fine with.  Downstairs, there’s a club where I ended up after The Luxe two weeks ago – they have various DJs on during the week and weekend and club nights like Electrotherapy, where you listen to house, dress up in neon and swap clothes, apparently.  So, weeknights for nice thai and chat, weekends for crazy DJ rave up with someone else’s clothes on.

Gramaphone on Urbanspoon

Buddha Bar, 8 Victoria Embankment, London


I’m lucky enough to have gone to both the Paris and London versions of the Buddha Bar.  Although the Paris version is somehow more grand (there is a certain level of snootiness that Parisiennes can do far  better than we can), but I really like the London version.  I’ve been twice, both times with girlfriends, and have had a good night out.  The decor is great and the music is fantastic (I’d forgotten how good the Buddha Bar sound is) .  The wine list is really good and the food is very nice, although not amazing.  Its Asian fusion in a sort of posh-Thai kind of way.  Sadly, I note that the toptable half price set menu offer is over as otherwise it is a bit on the pricey side, but if you’re celebrating something and want a bit of an occassion, then it would be a good choice.  Alternatively, just go upstairs for cocktails.

Buddha Bar  on Urbanspoon