Simms' city: London's hottest cocktail bars, pop-ups and parties


Our diarist Freya Simms offers her fortnightly reflections on her favourite London haunts…

The Providores and the Purl Cocktail Bar

Purl Cocktail Bar

The Purl

My office is on the corner of Blandford St and Marylebone High St which is awash with boutiques and eateries, but unfortunately the most exploration I have time for is a dash to Paul for a coffee or the Japanese kitchen for one of their delicious Ramens.

So I decided to put this right. Engage a baby sitter and spend a Friday evening trying out some of the most talked about venues with the Tarnished Knight in tow.

First stop was a glug of New Zealand pinot in the lovely Providores, and then off to Purl for a cocktail. On the exterior it has quite a Manhattan feel about it i.e. you are greeted by a larger than life bouncer asking if you have a reservation before descending to the bowels of the building to an artfully designed bar. The bar in question being a melange of shabby chic and mid-century modern, all school benches and distressed leather armchairs jostling for space. They have an inventive cocktail list – mostly for the good – but will also rustle up any of the classics for you. 

Roganic pop-up restaurant

Roganic pop-up restaurant

Source: Ewan-M

We then stumbled a few paces down to the road to Roganic, the pop-up sister restaurant of Simon Rogan and Penny Tapsells’ critically acclaimed L’Enclume in the lake district, and happily tucked into their 10 course tasting menu.

Yes, that’s 10 courses.

This might sound overwhelming, but each course is exquisite and no more than a couple of mouthfuls. I would recommend one person choosing the vegetarian menu too, as both are a labour in love and equally delicious. A little appetiser for you; millet pudding with grains, burnt pear and Devon blue; and Gressingham duck with carrot, mayweed and smoked redcurrants.


Brook and Bond in Fenwicks

Brook and Bond in Fenwicks

When meeting someone from Condé Nast the usual destination seems to be Cecconis, so it was a revelation to meet the lovely, and soon to be wed, Rennée from Tatler in the Brook and Bond at Fenwick’s. First, you get a wonderful whiff of retail heaven on your way up to the 2nd floor before being greeted by a light, airy, tranquil cafe. Coffees are served alongside a dish of smarties so you can indulge in something sweet too.

Country and Town House magazine’s 5th birthday party

Goedhuis champagne de bruyne

Next up was the Country and Town House magazine’s 5th birthday party held at Bond St’s Opera Gallery. This provided the perfect opportunity for a bit of a mid-week blow out.

Attended by many glam contributors including foodie Thomasina Miers, the night was washed down with lashings of gin from Gordons and delicious champagne from Goedhuis & Co – who got a big thank you for being the most personable and knowledgeable wine merchants in London.

There were a few business cards changing hands, but mostly people throwing back their heads and celebrating this excellent magazine’s milestone.

Freya Simms is managing director of Gong Muse a Strategic Communications agency for the art and luxury markets and winner of PRCA Agency Campaign of the year 2011.