28 April 2016

& other places: Opium, Vagabond Wines & Champagne + Fromage

Three bars to whet your appetite.

This late night drinking den is found (where else?) in Chinatown. Like the Experimental Cocktail Club, Opium is tucked behind a nondescript door, marked only by the bouncer waiting outside. A quick nod and a climb up two or three flights of stairs and we found our place at the bar for post The Book of Mormon drinks, a couple of Wednesdays ago. The drinks menu sounds delicious - the Opium #6 with tequila, ginger, oolong tea for example, or the Golden Lotus with its Remy Martin, rye whisky and banana - but we continued our love affair with Kummel and ordered first a Silver Bullet, and then the much tastier and smoother (and papa-patented) Silver Streak with gin. We couldn't resist the excellent dim sum, so much so that we had to order more to sate our craving for the delicious dumplings. My favourites? The classic pork and prawn, the crab and samphire and the lobster, naturally.

Vagabond Wines
Vagabond Wines are making the art of drinking the grape a more casual affair. No lengthy list to wade through, just a few machines to hover in front of, deciding which to try first. They profess to having over 100 bottles by the glass - just load up your wine card with money, slide it into the slot, press for a sample (25ml) or a glass (125ml) and bottoms up. It's a great way of discovering new wines without committing to a bottle (although you can buy any you like) and with the prices ranging from 'impressively cheap' to 'impressively not so cheap', there's something for everyone. We headed to the Spitalfields one and while I think it's a little smaller than the others, it makes for a cosy post-work stop off. Bucket of wine optional.

Champagne + Fromage
Lovely. A place that does what it says on the tin. A tiny little space across two floors a stone's throw from Covent Garden, Champagne + Fromage is a great place to dip into mid-afternoon for a pick me up. We went for a flight of champagne each - three glasses of different grapes (who doesn't love a selection?) - and shared a cheeseboard - choose three from a range (something old, something new, something fruity and something blue...)  - and would have declared ourselves done, considering we had dinner at St John booked for later that evening. But, of course, we couldn't resist and had stayed for another bottle of bubbly. Sitting downstairs, the atmosphere's a bit lacking but nothing that the fizz couldn't combat.

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