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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Steam and Rye, The City


Facebook recently introduced another typically daft gizmo. Like so many others, it's presumably aimed at disaffected youth festering in Nowhere Nebraska, stroking their father's rifle collection as they plan their bloody revenge on those classmates that dared mock their Justin Bieber be-stickered lunch box. Based on past posts, Facebook's feature fancies it can select your personal top 10 moments of the year. In 2014, as well as buying a new loo seat, one of mine was attending a preview of The Great Gatsby in nausea-inducing 3D, apparently. Is my life really that dull? Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby was a frenetic, over-styled marshmallow - shallow, vapid and unrewarding. I mention this, not because I've fancy a gig as a film critic - although I'll happily give you a pithy précis of Behind The Candelabra if you like - rather that Luhrmann's lurid Gatsby evidently inspires Nick House's new City restaurant and bar behemoth, Steam and Rye. As at his other venues Mahiki and Bodo’s Schloss, this perma-House party, set in the former Bank of New York's august marbled halls, is crammed chock-full of gimmicks - a 20's gangsters and molls theme park for cocktail-crazy kidult bankers and their 20-something staff: Basildon blondes, Billericay bean counters and Southend secretaries that fancy themselves Essex's answer to Daisy Buchanan. Steam and Rye has been designed in conjunction with a model/ presenter/ serial red carpet-hogger whose clothing range, Kelly Brook at New Look, is sure to appeal to those that imagine ersatz glam the height of big city sophistication. As I'm unlikely VIP lounge material (I'm not dating a West Ham player and I'd refuse to give a K***ing Kardashian my contact details, even supposing it wanted them), I head downstairs to one of various spaces accessible to paying punters. Here, a passable rendition of an antiquated Eastern Pacific Railway dining carriage doubles as a cocktail lounge - New York's Grand Central Station another design influence I'm told. All aboard a cheesy choo-choo to Yonkers for a bonkers range of hooch served by flappers in shimmy shifts. Ignoring classic calls vieux carré and prescription julep (£12.50), tonight's throng is sold on tricks such as sticks of rock in soda fountain alco-pops, moonshine served in oil can mugs...or in faux footwear in the case of dead man’s boot (tequila, lemon and marshmallow). A Monica Lewinsky cocktail is a creamy rum and amaretto affair - fit for a president, no doubt. Be careful he doesn't splash it on your dress, love: people will talk. ‘Maize balls,' meanwhile, may well make Made In Chelsea fans miss the last train back to Basildon. Steaming at 2 am? I don't hang around to find out. I've got better, if not bigger, speakeasies in mind. 
147 Leadenhall Street, EC3V 4QT 37018793 www.steamandrye.com  

Great Gatsby outfit (pictured) available via www.joke.co.uk