by Sarah Royce-Greensill, The Telegraph, March 15, 2019
A glossy ode to David Bowie’s 1970s glam-rock alter ego, tucked away in a corner of sedate, stately Hotel Café Royal.
It’s not just Brixton that can lay claim to the late, great David Bowie - he was a regular at Hotel Café Royal, and threw a star-studded retirement party for his alter ego Ziggy Stardust at the hotel in 1973. To celebrate the association, the hotel has turned a previously undervalued nook of its mezzanine-level Laurent Grill and Sushi Bar into Ziggy’s, a slick tribute to the flame-haired rock star.
Burnt-orange leather armchairs cluster around lacquer-polished tables, and the leather-clad walls (designed to resemble bamboo sticks? Organ pipes?) are dotted with images of the star taken by Mick Rock, Bowie’s official photographer during the Ziggy Stardust era.
The playlist? You guessed it - there’s plenty of material from Bowie’s five-decade career, with the odd Rolling Stones / Police / Queen track thrown in for good measure.
Although nights out here are hardly likely to rival that boisterous ‘Last Supper’ send-off, it’s a welcome sanctuary from the frantic Piccadilly pavements below. The atmosphere is convivial, but it’s hard to imagine things getting unruly - even if Messrs McCartney and Jagger did decide to stage a Regent Street reunion.
An 11-strong list takes inspiration from Bowie’s life, music and preferred tipples. Bar manager Fabio recommends the Tiger on Vaseline: a souped-up Pina Colada in which cachaca, spiced rum, pineapple and lime juice are topped with a coconut and white-chocolate foam so thick it’s served with a teaspoon.
It’s one of the most instantly addictive cocktails I can remember: sweet, sour, sweet again, and worth every penny of its £15 price tag. The Femme Fatale serves up less instant gratification, more of a creeping, boozy warmth: a martini-style mix of vodka, byrrh and sake (in reference to Bowie’s love of Japan), it’s served in an absinthe-rinsed, fluted martini glass and is far less grimace-inducing than the ingredients suggest.
Elsewhere, Favourite Melodies is a slightly smoky, slightly sweet take on a Manhattan, and Flaming Dove is a fruity, juicy concoction of pisco, pineapple juice, aperol and lemon that’s let down only by the potpourri-esque pomegranate molasses left over at the end.
Soak it up with…
Sushi and small plates from Laurent, where French chef Laurent Tourondel presides over a kitchen that somehow dishes up both flame-grilled steaks and Japanese-grade sushi to rapturous praise.
Gin-cured salmon sushi rolls are a cut above your average bar snacks, while my date (an expert on such matters) declared the buttermilk fried chicken as the best he’d ever had.
Raising a (rather refined) glass to a London legend - die-hard Bowie fan or not.
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 5pm - 1am. Hotel Café Royal, 68 Regent Street, London W1B 4DY; laurentatcaferoyal.com
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