So the London film festival is nearly upon us. Time to travel the globe and fall down the rabbit hole for one long wonderful fortnight. I was proud of myself, I managed to programme my wish list without any dramas or tears – or any help from Excel sorting out the cross referencing timings and calculating the shuttle runs over Hungerford Bridge.
It was all going so smoothly until the booking system crashed circa 9.38 once I’d spent an hour loading up my choice. Wahh WAHHHHHH. I was left agape staring at the message ‘Your basket is empty’, knowing full well lots would’ve sold out. More congested than the first day of Lanvin in H&M the site was swollen to the brim. God I hate it when people are more on it than me! But by some sheer technical joy and mastery my films were found and retrieved from some back end of the system so I am happily maxxxed on time and money now. The End.
Here are some good eating drinking dens round the South Bank and Leicester Square – we could all do with a little help there. For fear of ending up in Haagen-Dazs or Bella Pasta hahahhaaa aaaaargggh.
Gordon’s Wine Bar
If you are shuttling between Leicester Square and the NFT you’ll no doubt trot down Villiers Street and at the bottom lies Gordons. You would be right to call this an institution, home to many a secret tryst and nights on the swerve. Think subteranean dark cellar arches, candles, dripping wax and er….wine. In the summer it has a terrace for completely the reverse! (except the wine). It is said to be London’s oldest bar.
Good for: hiding, illicit affairs, darkness, atmosphere
Bad for: beer drinkers, getting your bag nicked apparently
47 Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NE 020 7930 1408
Open every day: 11am to 11pm Sunday 12.00am to 10.00pm
Rules Cocktail Bar
We at Tropolis (an attempt at a Wallpaper* tone of voice there) LOVE Rules. Flippin expensive but if you luck out they’ll bring you ‘free’ cheese n bics to help the martinis go down. Its old, got swirly carpets and sits above London’s oldest restaurant – opened in 1798. So its only 22 years younger than the USA.
Good for: a unique experience
Bad for: moody ambience – can we have some Rules about bright lights?
35 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7LB
020 7836 5314
Midday to midnight Mon-Sat, midday – 10.45pm Sun
Good, cheap, fast. And it looks it but who cares. Great pitstop just off the Gerrard St Chinatown strip. Malaysian food is a brilliantly rich and flavoursome – rendangs, satays the works. Yes bring on the saturated fats.
5 Macclesfield Street, W1D 6AY020 7734 1382
Good for: flavours and budget diners
Bad for: nice n moody lighting, calorie counters
Well, I’ve just realised I haven’t been yet. Awaiting the hype to die down a little. You’ve got a choice of two bar here.
Experimental Cocktail Club
A French export this is a fairly flash joint. Used to be a really dodgy late night bar where the worst types of waifs and strays gravitated to on a school night once Soho had turfed everyone out. Obviously I never frequented the place – what a thought! Now it dos what it says on the tin. When I went the staff were very chatty and willing to dispatch their worldy wisdom while you imbibe with gusto. I think for more than two its best to book to be sure. I’m not really into this booking lark but if it’s a case of in or out, I’d sooner in.
13a Gerrard Street, WC2
6pm to 3am, Sundays 5pm – midnight
Good for: I know – cocktails!
Bad for: the crowd, can get a bit towny
I haven’t been, I can’t pretend. However we all know that it’s good so this is just a little reminder for meat and cocktail lovers. Nothing more to say.
11 Langley Street, WC2H 9JG
020 7856 2154
Good for: iron and protein junkies
Bad for: ummm – vegetarians?
Convivial, great wines, froggy food. Small plates, oh so many small plates. In fact they were an early adopter (culprit) of small plate innovation. Tons of good wine choices, great service. Nice zinc bar. Good in day or eve when its very bustly.
5 William IV Street, London WC2N 4DW
020 7036 0660
Good for: wine hopping, cold cuts, ambience
Bad for: one plate of food all to yourself – so bad for lots of men then!
Image: Matthew Black
Just a classic London pub brimming with original etched glass and mahogany.
90 St Martins Lane, WC2N 4AP
Good for: a simple pub drink
Bad for: probably food
Been around since the dawn of time (well 1964), this is a humble snack bar offering salads, falafels and salt beef. Very handily located just off Leicester Square, this does eat in or take away and is a much better option than the Burger King on the corner if you are cramming some swift munch between a double bill. And it’s literally kosher! MB.
*Newsflash* You better get visit pronto because Gaby’s days are numbered. Sniff….I don’t have the energy to rant and its not the place.
30 Charing Cross Road. London, WC2H 0DB, 20 7836 4233
Good for: cheap and quick, veggies, bar mitzvahs
Bad for: a date
Les Deux Salons
The two–floor grand Parisian style brasserie offers robust classic French cooking in a big bustling environment of dark green leather banquettes, mosaic marbled flooring, aged mirrors and globe lights.
40 — 42 William IV Street, WC2N 4DD
020 7420 2050
7 days a week lunch and dinner
Good for: buzzing atmosphere, convincing French ambience
Bad for: quiet dining
This is totally private but if a bit of nouse, nerve and charm might help you in. It’s a thesp hangout in a lovely skinny Georgian building down an alley slipped off St Martin’s Lane. Lots of little rooms clustered around fires offer a very cosy environment. Food menu looks heavenly. The trick is to say you’re thinking about joining, is there any chane of a look round and a quick drink?
45 Saint Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4HX
020 7240 7659
Good for: going back in time
Bad for: getting in – it’s a members’ bar
I’ve got big love for Bedford & Strand, a basement wine-bar and bistro serving traditional British and French dishes. Very well priced – it used to be one of the only decent places in the area for a bit to eat amongst all the tourist tat but the dining landscape of WC2 has radically changed since this opened in 2005. Still looks good, feels good, tastes good. And doesn’t feel very London either.
1a Bedford St, London, WC2E 9HH
0207 836 3033
Mon – Fri midday to midnight, Sat 5pm to midnight
Good for: popping in, quick drinks and food.
Bad for: natural light