This Notting Hill cocktail bar is tucked away on a quiet residential street, just a short walk from the boutiques of Westbourne Grove. The location of The Lonsdale means that if you find yourself there, it's not because you just happened to stumble across it - you planned to go there, booked in advance, and probably have that smug look on your face at having discovered a gem of a bar.
The Venue and Ambience
The warm welcome I received as I walked in to the bar set the tone for the evening, and there's no doubt that the polite and friendly staff are one of The Lonsdale's key assets.
The Lonsdale is tastefully decorated, and manages to be smart and modern without sacrificing comfort. The upbeat jazz playing in the background adds to the ever-so-slightly Austin Powers glam feel of the place - particularly helped by the liberal helpings of red alligator skin throughout the restaurant area. It won't be to everyone's taste, but it's a memorable and distinctive style that sets The Lonsdale apart from much of the competition.
The Food and Drinks
To discover the true nature of this bar, you just need to get your hands on the drinks menu. It's an impressive beast; hard-bound, with that alligator skin making another appearance , and weighs in at a cool twenty pages of tempting cocktails and fine wines. All the old favourites are in there, many served with a Lonsdale-selected twist. And for the uninitiated, each cocktail is listed with an outline of the glass it's served in - a nice touch. Just don't expect the drinks selection to extend to the beers - the single lager on the menu cuts a lonely figure amongst its more sophisticated cousins.
The food at The Lonsdale was a very pleasant surprise, far beyond the simple cocktail bar add-on you might expect. Serving a 'best of British' menu, you'll find duck, rabbit and lobster alongside a good selection of steaks and a mouth-watering dessert menu. Having dinner here will give you the chance to soak up more of the relaxed chic vibes that The Lonsdale has to offer, and you'll find the meals very well cooked and full of flavour. A fellow diner greeted her meal with an exclamation of 'Ohh, amazeballs!'. I'll stop just short of such an accolade, but the food is excellent, and comes highly recommended.
Though it comes with a fairly hefty price tag, this is an extremely tasteful place to splash some hard-earned cash. All in all, The Lonsdale is well worth a visit, and any urban explorers making the trek into the Notting Hill heartlands to discover it will be amply rewarded.