REVIEW – VERTILON, VERTA HOTEL, BATTERSEA

Vertilon is the new Bar at The Hotel Verta in Battersea, the Hotel right next door to Londons only Heliport, just across the Thames from  Chelsea Harbour.

A bit of a pain to get to, and from the outside fairly anonymous, once inside however, fans of modernist design are in for a treat. The image presented is one that could be any time from the late 1920s through to the 1950s – but missing out the brutalism in favour of comfort and style. Vertilon is situated upstairs from Patrisey (the main restaurant) on the Mezzanine level, with views of both Chelsea and the Heliport. That may not sound like much, but watching sleek Helicopters land and take off definitely adds a little something to the experience.

A quick look at the Menu confirms that although in “sarf London”, we are still in a Hotel that aspires to Five star ratings – its not cheap, with cocktails from £10.00 to £14.00, however, the real question is “are they worth it”?

The answer is yes – we had a couple of standards – an Aviation for me, and a Mojito for the Lady P. The Aviation , a thirties classic of Gin, Maraschino and Lemon juice was perfectly balanced, and the Mojito was spot on. the only quibble would be the slight delay in service, caused by the fact that we chose to arrive in the middle of the hotel launching its Sunday Brunch ( one for Wandsworths “Scrummy Mummies, no doubt).

I then went off menu, as I fancied an Old Fashioned made with their Diplomatico Rum, and Miss p chose the Bloody Mary – which she pronounced “excellent”. It was worth studying their back bar, which has a great range of Rums, Bourbons, Tequilas Gins and Vodkas, but I feel is a little short on Single Malts, although to be fair, all regions are represented.

The only other letdown was our unsmiling waitress, who was not enjoying her day in a rather obvious way. However the other members of staff we observed, and the pink-shirted Head Bartender who mixed our drinks more than made up for this little glitch.

Had we had time, we would have stayed longer, but alas, we had to be on our way…

So, if you are south of the river and in need of a decent drink in decent surroundings, Vertilon is the place to try…

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New Job, new place…

Well, so far so good. A new Bar in a new hotel, and the team is pretty keen, with the exception of two people…

One, a young woman, has, after five weeks here, (a week longer than yours truly) never broken into a smile unless she can report something wrong. She has told me all about the failings we have in this new hotel, but as yet has no answers, or seemingly any ability to surmount them. She has already told me that she is simply awaiting a position in another hotel, which will open in January. Apparently she will be a supervisor in The Bar there, and I wish them all the best of luck, as she cannot make  a drink, nor can she work with others. Actually I know the Head bartender there, a nice chap with great skill, and I hope he has better luck. Sadly, all too many in this business get caught up in their own negativity – its easy to do, but fatal if you want to be the best. In effect, it looks as if she took a job with us merely to fill in a few weeks before this other job opened up. This is annoying, as there are many out there who would jump at the chance to work in a high-end bar. I guess the writing was on the wall when in discussion of her former workplaces she had nothing good to say about any of them, whether five-star Park Lane joints or more modest places, and the fact that almost all her previous years of London experience had been via agencies.

The other individual is more interesting…

A young, intelligent man, he has a lot of experience in high-end nightclubs, and so is finding the pace in a low-profile Hotel opening a lot quieter than he is used to. He has a fairly good amount of knowledge- both with drinks and in general, but has that easily defineable quality of those under 25 – arrogance.

Quite simply he is able to put just about everybody’s nose out of joint, and is always the first to bitch about anything – generally staff food. As such, he was the ideal candidate for the Staff committee, yet failed to turn up to its first meeting. Now I am sure that he can be moulded, and can learn to work with others, so he is redeemable, however, it just goes to show that if you open a bar (as the owners did) with no head barman for the first 4 weeks, things can slide pretty fast….

Published in: on November 23, 2010 at 12:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Got a Job!

After three months of searching, applying, and interviewing, I finally found a job! This means more money for reviews, and I will update people on how it goes. Am now Head Mixologist at a new luxury small hotel in London.

I will try to post more about how this place develops, and what we are doing here.

Cheers,

Doctordrink

Published in: on October 18, 2010 at 6:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Zilouf, Upper St. Islington

Hey ho, here we go…

Zilouf kind of screams “Islington!” at you, but generally in a good way – not too far from the fantastic Ottolenghi, and a stones’ throw from the awesome “Bar with no name” of Tony Congliaro fame, this place is surrounded by stiff competition. Not that you would know it, as we arrived at around six – thirty on a Friday night, to find most tables full in the cosy shopfront bar, and those not full were reserved. Oops!

Luckily finding a table, we studied the short but accomplished menu, listening to the sounds of old Rock n Roll and Soul classics. The crowd at Zilouf is a mixed bunch – young and old, the obviously trendy and the just finished work. The bar staff exude happiness with their work, and the young waitstaff are helpful to a fault. The three of us, my girlfriend (the lovely Lady P, her friend Miss L, and myself), studied the menu and chose long drinks – two Raspberry Mules and an Elderflower and Ginger concoction for me.  I ordered at the bar, and was pleasantly surprised to have our three drinks converted into four, it being happy hour – two for one became four for two. “We’ll keep it in the fridge for you, just let us know when you want it” bless them, and with cocktails at around £7.00, this was a welcome gesture, happily given. The drinks were well made, and balanced, although I found the Elderflower & Ginger a little too lemony, and with not enough Ginger for myself. Our drinks were professionally and quickly served, and follow-up orders taken promptly.

The restaurant was doing good business, with a menu best described as fusion – normally this term leads Doctordrink to run and hide, but the food is evidently well executed, and very popular. as drinking was our main bent, we just had the fantastic double-cooked chips, served with wasabi mayo. a finer example of huge, perfectly cooked wedge-like chunks of potato would be hard to find.

All in all, a great little Bar and Restaurant, serving stylish food and drink at reasonable prices – whats not to like?

Published in: on September 27, 2010 at 6:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Just one thing before we start…

Why do we insist on putting up with crappy service in this town? And why do we, the servers put up with such arrogance – both from the public and from reviewers, who have probably never wiped a table? Even when mummy/the au pair was busy?

Here is a manifesto – well, more a list really, of things I will try to avoid in reviews of bars and restaurants:-

The word “toothsome” – hateful, hateful AA Gill of a word.

Likewise “moreish”- vile and possibly not really a word – a little like “LOL” for food writers.

National stereotypes – the Italians, Greeks and French are not all passionate, and, unless there really is a chill about my service, no Eastern European waitstaff will be described as “glacial”.

I will try to concentrate on the overall experience, but of course, the food drinks and service are gonna come first.

I will try to be fair, as I know what its like to get a bad review, and to work at full stretch.

I will remember at all times that, among food writers, Will Self is God, and always will be…

Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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