I have something to confess. The first time I arranged to review Dirty Martini Bishopsgate, I got stood up. I found myself standing outside the Mediterranean sea-blue doors by myself, shuffling my feet, pen and reporter's notebook in eager hands, wondering what to do. The Dirty Martini team were lovely and understanding, offering to rearrange my reservation for the same time next week and therefore giving me time to find a new, physically present friend to accompany me. What follows therefore is take two of this review.
Sitting in Dirty Martini makes you feel like a small fish in a great big sunken treasure chest. The atmosphere is made thick by the hum of conversation and dim lighting, and the bold mineral-blue and mottled golden brown of the plush armchairs scatters colour about the bar. Mondrianesque metal framework sectioned off our reserved area from the main bar, and there were several other small plush nooks off the large central area being settled into by groups like ours. This kind of intimate space is hard to find amongst the brash and bawdy post-work bars of the City, so it was a pleasant surprise to jump into the dark warmth of this basement bar's measured atmosphere.
The Atmosphere & Clientele:
The other murmuring shoals in Dirty Martini were hard to disassociate from each other. It appears that something about this bar attracts young professional women in swathes; all Topshop necklaces, summer top knots and midi skirts giggling around thin stemmed martini glasses. Apart from the occasional first-date couple, the prevalent lack of hulking men created a less guarded, more upbeat atmosphere where these groups of girls appeared relaxed enough to settle into their booths and stay past the designated after-work drink period.
The Food & Drink:
Perhaps it was the cocktail menu which caused Dirty Martini to be teeming with women on the night that I visited. The italicized font with its splashes of pink imagery detail fruity concoctions which arrive in delicate glass teacups and gleaming metal beakers. There is even a section of the menu where you can pick out a cocktail for its low calorie count, however my pal and I glossed over this bit in order to carry on sipping our delicious sugary concoctions in blissful saccharine ignorance. A highlight on the menu is La Florist, which comes with a miniature flower arrangement in the form of a petal punctured by a lavender stem balanced on its pastel pink liquid surface. It was almost too pretty to drink (almost). Our Mediterranean platter offered artfully arranged selections of meat, hummus and capers, which were similarly quickly disappeared by us both.
Should you find yourself in the unnerving bustle of Liverpool Street Station's atrium, wondering how you can comfortably wile away a couple of hours with your friends one night, then Dirty Martini Bishopsgate's inviting basement is a mere trip across the street. The staff are lovely, attentive and, unusually for a bar in London, seemingly sincere in their smiling attitude. In turn, this meant that upon leaving we too were very much sincere in our thanks to them for supplying us with such well-made cocktails in a well-crafted environment.