The bar is essentially an entre into the fabulous restaurant but, with one of the finest champagne lists in London, is worth checking out for itself. High ceilinged, small but airy, with a great view of the 274 bus stop on Gloucester Place.
That is unfair: the best view is the list of fizz, which runs to a dozen or more pages, including all my favourites, and some that are new to me, but with which I will enjoy becoming well acquainted. The range runs from award winning English sparklers (a couple of lovely vintages of Nyetimber), through Austrian, Italian and regional French to Champagne itself. Oh and there are some classics from that fine region: from small, independent producers like Henri Giraud, Egley-Oriet and Jacquesson, through to the Grand Marques of Krug, Salon and Dom. A list compiled with love, devotion and no small degree of care.
The crowd is mixed: suits and pre-dinner lounging, and a pair of very loud trousers, with a voice to match, all sucking down bubbles and snarfing on the bacon pop corn and “crisps” from the restaurant next door. No mere Kettle Chips here. Oh no: crispy cod skin and parmesan crisps are the order of the evening.
Through the throng of it all sails the owner, Xavier, suavely French, unruffled by nervous waiters or loud trousers. You get the impression that, had he been on the Titanic, he would have been calmly handing out fizz to the band as the boat went down.