Vintry & Mercer Boutique Hotel, City of London:(invited press review)
Vintry & Mercer is a brand new boutique hotel on Garlick Hill in the City of London from the same group who own South Kensington’s The Ampersand Hotel (which I reviewed recently). I’ve now been invited to their cocktail bar DND (Do Not Disturb) followed by dinner at Mercer Roof Terrace, their enticing sounding rooftop restaurant with a menu that ‘celebrates the best of modern British cooking’. The hotel’s executive chef Chris Golding has an interesting sounding CV with stints at Nobu, Nahm at the Halkin, Zuma and Apero at The Ampersand as well as Dinings at the Norman Hotel, Tel Aviv. The ground floor of the hotel hosts Vintry Kitchen featuring Asian-inspired sharing plates, making the most of Chris’ Asian experience with dishes include Scottish scallop carpaccio with cucumber, yuzu & caviar and sea-reared rainbow trout tataki, mango & miso, flowers & herbs. But I’m not reviewing Vintry Kitchen today and make my way down into the basement where DND resides. The bar is inspired by the 1920s New York “Speakeasies”, the illegal drinking dens at the time of Prohibition which were constantly under threat of being shut down by the police. The interior is dark and seductive with olive green velvet chairs, red leather banquettes and pictures of Ziegfeld Follies dancing girls on the wall. I can just imagine Humphrey Bogart in the corner nursing a scotch and listening to a pianist playing a soulful ballad. The bar is run by the very charming Cosmin Tigroso who has worked at Berners Tavern and Bermondsey’s Nine Lives. He explained that alongside an interesting-sounding house cocktail list, that DND also offers speciality barrel-aged cocktails in French oak. There’s also a New York inspired menu of small plates, tacos and sliders to keep your tummy happy. I ordered the Bijou, one of the barrel-aged cocktails; it’s a classic created by Harry Johnson, the ‘godfather’ of professional bartending. Its name reflects the colours of three jewels: gin for diamond, vermouth for ruby and chartreuse for emerald, using Victory Gin, Belsazar Red Vermouth and Yellow Chartreuse, to create a sophisticated take on the Negroni which is less bitter than the Italian staple and with herbal and spice notes.
The Average Joe brought together Bulleit Rye with the ‘Joe syrup’ – a Romanian compote of white wine, banana, rosemary, thyme and cardamom creating a smooth, well-balanced drink with a hint of sweetness from the mouthfeel of the banana. The most exciting cocktail I tried was the Lift Yourself – Ocho Blanco Tequila, asparagus, coconut water and vinegar – served in a fantastic bird shaped glass with the unexpectedly pleasurable combination of tequila and asparagus. With bowls of delicious smoked almonds and olives to snack on together with excellent signature drinks made with British spirits, DND will quickly establish itself as one of the best bars in London. Much as I would have loved to stay drinking in DND it was time to pop upstairs to the Mercer Roof Terrace for dinner. With views that take in St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard it will make the perfect City of London outdoor rooftop destination..but maybe not on a cold winter’s night…! so we were glad to be inside in the warm.
The Vintry & Mercer people have created a great bar and a terrific rooftop space that will be a great hit in the summer but deserves a year-long audience for the quality of the food. It will be a real boon if you work on that side of town but it’s worth a trip.
Bookings for the three destinations can be made via the Vintry & Mercer website.
Vintry & Mercer,
19-20 Garlick Hill,
Telephone: +44 203 908 8088
Other places in London where you can dine with a view? In the City, we recommend Angler restaurant, while on the South Bank, OXO Tower Restaurant works well. Right in the heart of London VIVI at Centre Point has spectacular views and a 1960s themed restaurant, which might not be to everyone’s taste.
Disclosure: We dined as guests of Vintry & Mercer – all thoughts are my own.