Tucked away in the city bar haven of Devonshire Square in Liverpool Street and attached to Vivek Singh’s Cinnamon Kitchen is the stylish but unassuming Anise. Having undergone a revamp last year and with its popularity growing amongst city workers, Singh has decided to put a meaty spin on the place with his Butcher Bar pop-up. Being a category 1 carnivore I just had to check it out.
Surrounded by the other upmarket bars in Devonshire Square Anise does well to stand out with its enchanting tea light lit staircase leading up to its raised level spot. All of the windows are emblazoned with a star-anise inspired pattern, whilst similar snowflake-like shapes can be found all around the venue, from the floors to the expertly etched Indian style lanterns that lightly sway from the ceiling. The exotic feel of Anise is carried right the way through the bar, with plenty of deep purples used to give the bar quite a luxurious feel. The cosy little seating booths, positioned perfectly in the window bays, are a great spot for couples to spend an intimate evening. First date, anyone?
The rather hedonistic ambience that permeates from Anise make it lean more toward the ‘late evening venue’ moniker, with very low lighting, a healthy dose of hip-hop and R&B resonating around the bar and a layout that oozes intimacy it is no surprise that the majority of people in Anise that night were couples. It is not however, a dating only zone, Anise makes a great spot for after work drinks, especially on a Friday night where the DJ plays until the early hours.
The Food and Drink
This is what we came to Anise for, The Butcher Bar, one of the most intriguingly ambitious pop-ups I have had the pleasure of experiencing this year. Vegetarians look away now; this is Vivek Singh’s ode to meat as everything on the menu, including the cocktails center around meat (yes, even the cocktails). Harnessing Executive chef Singh’s background with modern Indian game the food was as tasty as it was interesting. We plumped for Desi sticky pork ribs, Kolkata chilli chicken wings and devilled chicken livers for starters. Although quite small with the portions they were all incredibly tasty, each bursting with flavour combinations that will have even the most refined pallet confused. Both the wings and ribs can be quite messy however, bear that in mind if you’re on a first date! For a main we shared a Tandoori Grouse Nest Pizza, a meaty amalgamation of Indian and Italian cuisines fused to create a tasty and unique dish.
The drinks are simply mind boggling, including ingredients from bacon infused buffalo trace to crispy pigs ear to grilled venison infused Johnnie Walker. To describe them all is difficult, there is so much going on in each one they simply have to be tried to be believed. Ambitious is an understatement.
Anise is great little spot. Take a date, go for after work drinks or go to indulge in some fantastically creative cuisine at The Butcher Bar pop-up (open until the end of October), you’re unlikely to be disappointed but veggie’s beware, you might have to sit this one out!