Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Vertigo 42, The City, 13/20

Location: 25 Old Broad Street


Visit: Friday 6pm

To Note? Set in the beautiful International Financial Centre Tower gives great views but a lot of security and do not even think about coming without a booking

Ambience 2/5
Design 5/5
Drinks 4/5
Staff 2/5
Extra LBS Star: For lovely champagne (and champagne cocktails) and awful service – I think not

“What a beautiful building, I wonder what it is”

My first words on wandering along Old Broad Street, central "city" territory, dodging the suits and coming across a beautiful pink lit lobby with escalators that seem to hang in the centre of this large glass box. And that was just the entrance.

We walked up to the formidable counter to discover the first rule: you have to book; and they will take card details to hold the reservation, so you need to be sure you are going! Secondly, the security takes longer than Heathrow. Empty your pockets, send your bag through, coat off, through the metal detector. If you pass this test then you head up the escalator to the lift that will whisk you straight to the top of Tower 42.

The lift doors slide open, you step onto a lush (sound absorbing!) carpet and your host glides over to take your coat and lead you all the way round the 360ยบ bar with floor to ceiling windows offering breathtaking views over the City of London – always more attractive by night and surely the main reason that you’d come here. Tables are suited to four people maximum due to the limited space (about two metres) between the wall formed by the central support and the window. Seating is comprised of 60’s inspired swivel chairs that envelop you situated round low tables. This did not stop the occasional (post work) group crowding together over a single seating area. A really varied audience is made up of city workers, tourists and couples starting their evenings. The atmosphere is one of appreciation, the city laid out at your feet and a glass of champagne – it’s hard not to feel that life is good.

But. Yes, there is a but. I am afraid to say that we were led all the way round this stunning bar to a corner where the small bar is based (small because the service comes to you at your table) and then they leave you there! I thought they were getting our table ready but no - I spent two hours on my feet, which was quite enough in heels. On leaving we passed at least half a dozen free tables; I naively presumed that they would have a system of inviting customers – in order of arrival - to take a table when one became free. Instead we were herded like cattle to one end and left there, the result being coats and bags sprawled across the floor and a reticence to stay longer than a glass, no matter how good the views. I cannot even say the service was good. We were handed menus but despite standing by the service area - since we had no table – we had to track down a waiter twice to as for drinks. Not worth 12.5% service charge me thinks.

The drinks, however, were very good. Champagne cocktails were nicely made, their house champagne is very good both straight and mixed and the Gosset Excellence was lovely. This is a smooth, round champagne that I have never tried before and would gladly return to on a menu.

So, is it all worth it?

For a glass of champagne (they only do bar snacks so do not plan to eat here) in a stylish bar with some of the best views of the city on offer, book yourself in and head along so you can tell your friends that you have also experienced “42”. But if you are not one to spend £17 on a glass of bubbly, and you struggle to decide your dinner this evening let alone book weeks ahead, maybe Vertigo 42 is one to pass on.

(To note, they have since invited me backto try again, to be continued...)

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