Monday, 1 August 2011

The Drift, Bishopsgate

Isn’t London just so New York nowadays? And I’m not just talking about the increase in diners, coffee shops and Jewish-styled delis, but the skyline, which amongst other things, has made the opening shots of The Apprentice such compulsive viewing.

The latest addition to the cityscape is the Heron Tower on Bishopsgate, which is a stones throw from Liverpool Street Station. At 46 floors and striking to look at, the Heron wouldn’t look out of place in the Big Apple. (OK, so it’s a little small by US standards). And, of course, with a new building comes a new venue - in this case, The Drift Bar.

The Drift has been brought to us by Drake and Morgan, the team behind the roaring successes that are the Folly, Parlour, Refinery and Anthologist bars. Spread over two floors, the Drift follows their template of industrial style décor and fittings - with heavy lashings of stainless steel softened by the dark brown furniture. Floor to (high) ceiling windows complete the urban affect, but it still manages to be warm and welcoming. The music is loud, but not in a disruptive way, and the mood is festive and buzzing. The punters are all suited and booted, enjoying London’s next big thing, and to our surprise, there was a celebrity in the house that night in the form of Pixie Lott. And no, I didn’t recognise her, but fortunately my friends are much cooler then me.

The staff, in common with the other bars, are all gorgeous in a fresh-off-the-catwalk way, and charming to go with it. They subtly up-sell their cocktail range, and are knowledgeable about the food and drinks on offer. They are a tad slow in service, and the downstairs bar in particular seemed to have more people collecting or cleaning than actually serving. But I’m sure that’s something that a logistical tweak will sort out.

We checked out the upstairs restaurant and started with an antipasto board to share, a selection of cured meats, sun-ripened tomatoes, and balsamic baby onions and marinated Puglia olives with traditional handmade breads. This was both delicious and plentiful. (Dare I say, it was a American-sized portion.) For mains, my colleague tried out the crab and crayfish linguini tossed with white wine, chilli & lemon. This was nicely cooked with generous helps of crab and crayfish. I opted for the beef burger on a toasted brioche bun with a side of slaw and fries which was good pub grub, cooked to medium-rare perfection. We were in a white wine mood and the South African Long Beach Sauvignon Blanc did the trick. But it’s a comprehensive wine list and we really should have tried some of the others. Next time, I guess.

Because there will be a next time, as the Drift’s mix of sophistication, vibrancy and industrial styling is a welcome relief in a part of town that is relatively bereft of decent drinking spots. In fact, you could say that the Drift is the sort of bar that you might find in Manhattan. And that can only be a good thing.

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