SquareMeal Review of
The Drunken Oyster at Hai Cenato
The inky-hued destination cocktail bar upstairs at Hai Cenato (Jason Atherton’s New York-Italian restaurant) harks back to another era. With its neon signs, monochrome portraits of crooners, and Sinatra forlornly singing ‘Set ’em up Joe’ over speakers in the loo, this could be a Mob-run Brooklyn clip joint circa JFK and Marilyn. In keeping with the vibe, neatly barbered barmen in bow-ties knock out cocktails called Cosa Nostra Part II and Lucky Luciano (butter-washed Havana 7 rum, amaro and tobacco and chocolate bitters). In contrast, the view – of an urban garden by Victoria’s Nova food quarter – reminds you this is very much London now. Other mixes have a more modish Italian slant: a black coffee and walnut wine-laced twist on the Negroni; a rhubarb winter Bellini; and various Italian spritzes, aperitivi and frizzante ‘taptails’. Food comes from Hai Cenato’s kitchen: perhaps pizza topped with speck, ’nduja, spinach, anchovy and harissa.