Brian Silva's bar in London's oldest Restaurant now does food.
If you can't get a table at the very popular restaurant there is now a new food menu available...and what a stunning line up it offers.
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Martini’s were being poured from individual cocktail shakers at the table , ‘Dickens’ style, with olive n’ twists being commonly served throughout the mahogany clad room. Mr Silva kept a keen eye on the room and was quick to spot us as we sat down in the corner. He had a purposeful but very friendly air about him, his years in the business and the infamy from his many accolades hasn’t tainted his approachability nor his manner which was that of any good landlord welcoming new or old friends into his care. Brian closed the conversation with customer and ‘something for the weekend’ mixologist, Wayne Collins and headed our way.
steady and crafted signature
Brian asked what we would like to drink. I really enjoy that first exchange with the barmen as he profiles my tastes and fishes for that first order. This really is the only time a professional will pamper to your needs with such personal attention without you paying through the nose for it and it is something more people should enjoy. This really is your chance when faced with very experienced bartenders to extend your drinks knowledge and repertoire.
In my first encounter with a new barmen or new bar I often ask ‘do you have a signature drink?’. However at Mr Silva’s bar I was soon to find out that his steady and crafted signature under-wrote most of the drinks. A short cut such as “whats your signature” wasn’t going to help and indeed to my host could well be an insult. After only a couple of well honed questions I was reeled in and my order effortlessly plucked from me. Promptly after that a formidable drink, containing the same liquid displacement as a pygmies head, rolled under my nose. His cocktail consultation was effective, painless and as I sipped on my twisted Manhattan on the rocks with Maraschino bitters I found it all incredibly pleasant.
wonderful tonics, delicate tinctures
After a couple of drinks and some complimentary Stilton and cheese with uncomplimentary radishes, we moved to the bar for a third aperitif and a closer look at what Brian and his team do. The findings were very pleasing and inspiring. The bar is stacked top to bottom with the most extensive range of aperitifs i’ve seen backed by a great selection of hard liquor; it was like stepping back in time. Only a small selection of new spirits that have won their place behind such bars as Rules jostled for space among the classic collection. A bottom shelf of wonderful tonics, delicate tinctures and bold bitters graced the foot hills of a very stern and serious barrage of big alcoholic players; whiskies, vermouths and digestifs dominating and quality omnipresent.
The Orange Twist
5 ml Orancio
5 ml Cointreau
5ml Amer Picon
5 ml Carpano Antica
50ml La Familia Jose
Stir over hard ice and serve, sherry glass with the orange twist and it's oils. The Cointreau level will control your sweetness; adust accordingly.
Brian sat us at the bar and started with two plump orange twists which bled their oils into the waiting sherry glasses. He lined up 5 bottles and proceeded to blend and create while explaining how he was pairing off the flavours of the spirits while then allowing the main spirit to deliver the flavours in one overall taste: sweet citrus with bitter citrus, sweet vermouth with strong but mellowed tequila. I was knocked dead, the drink was so well balanced, chilled perfectly, with a very long and beautiful marriage of flavours on the palate.
No Detail Spared
“We serve a good sized drink” Brian commented; that was quite clear, “We don’t do coffee, we don’t do beer, we don’t do music” he went on to exclaim. My answer had I not have been close to rolling in the aisle after only three drinks would have been something like: “well who would notice if you did”, the drinks were heady, tasty and as much music as one needed. There is a reason that beer and music doesn’t accompany an experience in most exhibit galleries, it was the same principle here; this is a thinking man’s bar.
Brian went on to tell us how he had had the Japanese ice machine that used mineral water customised to remove the holes in the middle of the ice to make for harder cubes and less dilution; no detail had been spared, it was very comforting indeed.
Reservations: 0207 836 5314
35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden