Wednesday 15th October - Anyone with a London Cocktail Week hangover should even things out with dinner at The Fat Bear, the latest popup to take over the upstairs space at The Rising Sun. Previous tenants include Disco Bistro and Bob's Lobster, so you know you are in good hands.
Popup is probably the wrong term as The Fat Bear have taken up residency for at least a year. That's longer than many "permanent" eateries last these days. The menu is broadly American influenced, though the Southern States are particularly well represented with the likes of gumbo, shrimp & grits, crawfish, and biscuits and gravy making it onto the menu.
As it was chucking it down outside, comfort food was the order of the day. Loaded Sweet Potato Skins (£6) and Gnocchi with Broad Beans & Blue Cheese (£5) answered the call for starters. The moreish cheese sauce stuck around on the table until the end of the meal. Cajun-fried chicken livers, clam chowder and deep-fried pickles must wait for another day.
|Loaded Potato Skins|
|Gnocchi with Broad Beans & Blue Cheese|
Roasted Quail with Cornbread Stuffing (£16) and Spicy Crawfish Mac'n'Cheese (£9) were chosen over tempters like Braised Beef Short Rib, Cajun Meatloaf and the Papa Bear Burger. The quail was very neatly presented and was dispatched by my fellow diners. My second cheesy pasta dish of the evening was not short on flavoursome crawfish, but it was lacking a spicy kick, not that it bothered me.
|Roasted Quail with Cornbread Stuffing|
|"Spicy" Crawfish Mac'n'Cheese|
Full up, we didn't stick around for desserts, but Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce sounds wonderful and Pecan Pie can do no wrong in my eyes. They are also bringing in a soft serve ice cream machine very soon.
As for drinks, they have set up a nice little bar area where they have most things covered. A cocktail menu is in production - we did sample some pleasant mocktails that were kindly created in support of Lauren's Sober October (never heard of it). A few American craft beers wouldn't go amiss to keep all the great food company.
The Fat Bear is in a funny part of town, but it's worth going out of your way, especially with C.O.L.D. Bar, Hack & Hop, Harrild & Sons and 5CC round the corner too. The staff are a really friendly bunch (thanks for saving Mary's iPhone) and the food hit the spot.
A quick journey over the river brought us to the brand new Mondrian Hotel, home to Seamus Mullen's Sea Containers restaurant, and Ryan Cheti / Mr.Lyan's latest bar project, DandeLyan.
The real star of the show though is designer Tom Dixon who has created a stunning series of spaces, fitting the Mondrian out like a transatlantic liner. Take your time finding the bar and make as many loo trips as you can get away with to do some exploring!
That said, you could do worse than heading straight to DandeLyan, the stylish destination bar overlooking the Thames, Blackfriars and St.Paul's - James Bond would feel at home here. We settled down in front of the bartenders, including Lee who looked after us well for the duration of our stay. I was torn between studying the mixology and watching all manner of Londoners make their way along a rainy South Bank.
"So - great setting and wonderful atmosphere, but who is this Mr. Lyan guy you keep namedropping?"
Some vital stats for you:
- Ryan Chetiyawardana a.k.a. Mr Lyan has twice been named UK best bartender of the year
- White Lyan, his groundbreaking bar in Hoxton, won Best New International Cocktail Bar award at the annual Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail this year, AND came 20th on the recently published World's 50 Best Bars List
- He's a nice bloke, so I've heard
The drinks list is split into Cereal, Vegetal, Mineral and Floral sections, which they have taken rather seriously. I'll leave you to work out where malted grains, green wheat, douglas fir, lime-flower blossom, dandelion capillaire and clay appear on the menu. A fun flavour chart is also rather useful and my eyes immediately move towards the rich, boozy & aromatic drinks best consumed at night.
The Evil Manhattan fits that description, and I was tempted by the use of botanical beer "vermouth", but I settled instead for a Concrete Sazerac - Martell VSOP cognac, fermented Peychaud, absinthe and concrete. I can't remember the exact details, but I believe some part of the drink is percolated slowly through broken up concrete - why not? It was sublime, and the edible chocolate stones were a nice touch.
Mary enjoyed a Yellow & Green Fizz - Merlet pear liqueur, grass, yuzu vinegar and Perrier-Jouet champagne served in an ornate limited-edition Perrier-Jouet flute. It lives up to its green, fresh and aromatic tags, with the yuzu vinegar unsurprisingly playing a fairly key role. Lauren meanwhile, regretting Sober October, was served a flashy mocktail which only set her back £4.50. Many hotel bars and restaurants charge a lot more for their troubles.
The only DandeLyan downside is the price. Being a flashy hotel bar, it's no surprise that cocktails set you back around £12.50-14.50, but that doesn't mean I'm happy about it. Were they priced closer to £10, I could see myself caving in and ordering two or three, but a £45 bill for three drinks is a little hard to swallow, especially when the likes of Seven in Brixton offer challenging drinks for £5.
But that's the price we pay for living in London. The upside is that the world's best bartenders and chefs are on our doorstep, and they are worth splashing out on every now and then.