Friday, 5 November 2010

Redhook, Clerkenwell

If Mad Men’s Don Draper lived in noughties London, he would probably hang out at the Redhook.

89 Turnmill Street London
EC1M 5QU, 020 7065 6800
With its '50s and '60s furnishings, lush leather booth-style seating, and mix of chrome and exposed brickwork, Redhook transports you into 1960’s Manhattan. Or even to the neo-lounge world of Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn’s Swingers. Oysters Rockerfeller, steaks and martinis are complemented by Clerkenwell’s fashionable constituents of architects and designers. I half expected Dean Martin’s Volare to blast out from the sound system.
Redhook is part of the Rushmore Group, which seems to be on a bar/restaurant opening blitz since the East Rooms burned down. ("Must be an insurance job," opined the Northerner, whilst sipping her second bellini.) And it follows their now-familiar template of stylish ambiance and dazzling array of cocktails, fine wines and exotic lagers. Deriving its name from a Borough in Brooklyn, New York, Redhook’s American influences are obvious in both the food and drinks menu.
The bar staff can apparently pull together over seventy cocktails, which is a lot even for the Northerner and me. Drinks include boutique and rare beers (rare for this country, anyway) like Moosehead, Brooklyn Lager and Honker Ale, and a comprehensive selection of US wines, mostly of the Californian and Oregon regions.
On the food side the Surf and Turf theme (great idea, terrible name) is evident with Canadian lobster, diver scallops, king crab legs, clams and oysters on offer alongside Scottish skirt steak, American grain-fed T-bone and the supreme Japanese-Australian Wagyu fillet.
And it doesn’t come cheap. For a bill that include two bellinis, two beers, a bottle of Californian pinot noir (superb, I might add), two courses each and a shared cheese platter, it didn’t leave me much change from £200. That would be fine if this was five-star dining, but it didn’t quite reach those dizzy heights.
The waiting staff are young, charming, and gorgeous, which just about - but doesn’t quite - make up for their casual approach to service. Raising your eyes for attention proved more likely to attract a smile or a wink. But perhaps that’s just me. The atmosphere is laid back and affluent, and you can tell that the punters have money, which is just as well given the prices. It was quiet on the Friday night that we ate there, but having tried to book and popped in during the week, it does not seem to be suffering for a lack of customer.

Busy and buzzing, the place is clearly working. I think Don Draper would be pleased.

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