The only people not talking about Opium Chinatown are those who don’t give a four x about the hottest new places to drink. Seriously, this place is attracting everyone from the big guns right through to the cocktail curious. The reason is simple: it’s brilliant. That goes for the concept (dim sum and cocktails – how totally and utterly fabulous is that?) through to the names above the door (Dre Masso and Eric Yu – both major players in every facet of the taste department including decor, food and drink.)
They’ve got a crack team behind them in this recently opened hotspot. Esther Medina Cuesta, Megs DeMeulenaere and co. take care of things on the drinks front while Maria Carolina Lorincz is all big smiles and warm welcome as you head up the stairs away from the bustle of Gerrard Street.
Inside it’s an absolute joy – think all of the intimacy, separate zones and flexible spaces of a member’s club but none of the pretension. Opium Chinatown was conceived as a stylish home-from-home, a place where people can drop in from mid-day for business meetings and checking emails through to midnight when the mood is much more frivolous. Hence as much attention has been paid to the range of teas on offer (rare and traditional blends from Postcard seeing as you’re asking) as to the concise but quality cocktail list.
The first level is home to the dim sum parlour and Chinese Apothecary Bar. You won’t find any brands on show here. Instead, everything is decanted into uniform medicine bottles, only distinguishable by the Chinese characters painted on the front. It’s an aesthetes dream. And the food is fabulous too – perfect pillows of pimped up dim sum ranging from dumplings filled with lobster accompanied with luxurious XO dipping sauce, to treats with mushroom and truffle. There’s also a separate soon-to-be-opened restaurant which will serve feasting menus such as roasts and grills.
One floor up and you’re in another lounge area which leads into the Academy. We won’t lie, this is our favourite spot. It houses the Bartender’s Table – it’s pure theatre and a place where nosey people like us can chat with the bartenders, strike up a conversation with fellow guests and if we’re really getting into the spirit of things, mix our own drinks from the menu.
Ms S says:
Top tipple: I loved Way of the Dragon (Four Roses bourbon, red Italian vermouth, fig jam, lemon juice, aromatic bitters, black tea syrup and egg white) but my stand out cocktail has to be the Opium Cocktail No. 1 (Appleton VX rum, Wray & Nephew rum, absinthe, mandarin juice, lime juice, kaffir lime syrup, citrus bitters – topped up with a ginseng capsule) – dramatic, beautifully balanced, brilliantly executed, and served bubbling for your delectation.
Mr G says:
Top tipple: The Emperor’s New Clothes (Absolut vodka, red vermouth, purple grape juice, aloe vera juice, lime juice and green tea syrup) edged it as my favourite drink – a fantastic depth of flavour and served from a medicine bottle making the whole experience feel positively health-inducing. Royal Plums (Altos Blanco tequila, Chinese plum wine, poached black ply and rosemary syrup) is also well worth a taste.
What’s the damage?
£12.50-£14.50 cocktails; £4.50-£6.50 tea pots; £5-£9.50 dim sum.
Opium Chinatown, The Jade Door, 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE. T: 020 7734 7276. opiumchinatown.com
Open 12pm-12am. Please call to ensure you get a good seat.