There was so much buzz about the new opening so we tried to book a week in advance only to find out they were full. Walk-in status it is then. We arrived at 6.30 and the hostess told us we would be seated at 8.15pm the latest (they had to turn people away as the wait list was so long). I was ready to walk across the road for some sushi and yakitori but A really wanted to eat there, so despite the massive protest from my hangry belly I cheerfully said “That’s fine! We’ll wait by the bar!” (God knows I needed a stiff one.)
Butt parked by the bar, a “Hallelujah!” moment. Rows and rows of international and local stiffies from rum to bourbon to whisky. There’s nothing more than a tenner here. Price range per shot is £4-8 which is very good (and very dangerous).
My eyes are bad in “industrial-dim” lighting so while searching the rows I silently muttered, “I wonder if they have the Japanese goodies.” A few seconds later a bartender came out of nowhere and displayed a beautiful row of bottles in front of us. Attentive. Impressive.
I chose the 18-year-old Suntory Yamazaki which is an absolute pleasure to drink. Double, on the rocks. It reminds me of sherry, cherries, earth. It has a certain creaminess to it which makes it extremely smooth to drink. Gorgeous. I moved on to the 12-year-old Hibiki which is a bit more tart and fruity with an intense spicy finish.
A went for the North Carolina chopped pork (£12.95) which is served with smoked beans, slaw, creamy potato salad. The pork, albeit tender, was not as smoky as I’d hope so the burnt ends weren’t as delicious. Have it with a bit of beans and I guess you’d be happier.
I went for the lobster bake (£19.95) in garlic sauce and holy moly it’s a proper seafood orgy! You get half (1½ lb) lobster, a couple of jumbo shrimp, a couple of crab claws, a heap load of mussels, clams and new potatoes. This is such a bang-for-buck meal which you can have on your own or share (A isn’t too keen on seafood so this was mine, all mine!)
I did enjoy hanging out by the bar so if you like your stiff spirits you’d be fine waiting. If you’re planning on taking a group, book a month (or two) in advance. Or check out the one in Chelsea. Aren’t you glad there’s two of them now? 😉
12 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E | +44(0)20 3728 4888
Ave spend pp: £30