We Review Manetta’s Bar at Flemings Mayfair
What? Your latest haunt for drinks when you need a little luxury.
New? Yes and no…The bar was opened in the 1930’s as Manetta’s but after a while the bar lost its name and it rather faded into the background. However, with the refurbishment of Flemings and with the introduction of restaurant, Ormer Mayfair by Shaun Rankin, Manetta’s was brought back to life and even given its own entrance on Clarges Street.
Where? Hidden away beneath Flemings Mayfair, this is your new secret ‘in-the-know’ bar in Mayfair: 39 Clarges Street, Mayfair, W1J 7EW, www.flemings-mayfair.co.uk
On the Menu: Having drawn in a literary set in the past, Flemings is said to be the inspiration behind Agatha Christie’s book At Betram’s Hotel, the cocktails are inspired by authors and divided into: The Fantasists and The Realists. The former having cocktails such as A Portrait of a Young Man, inspired by the James Joyce novel and made from Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Xante pear liqueur, apple juice, passion fruit, lemon juice and cherry heering. The Realists include drinks inspired by Getrude Stein, such as The Lost Generation. You’ll also find classic cocktails, wines and a whole section dedicated to baijiu; which if you don’t know is a traditional Chinese distilled alcoholic drink, it’s the country’s most popular drink.
The Look: Harking back to the grandeur of the early 1930s, the new design has been created by renowned interior designers Tully Filmer Ltd (they’ve been refurbing the whole of the hotel). It’s intimate and sultry, with, in the words of Mia from Love Actually, ‘dark corners, for doing… dark deeds’. Although of course don’t do any dark deeds, just enjoy your cocktails. Opulent, grey velvet sofas line the walls, black leather chairs are dotted around the room, whilst red and black bar stools sit in front of the bar. Adorning the walls are bold portraits off Agatha Christie, Gertrude Stein and other authors; the bright colours a little at odds with the rest of the bar. Could I imagine Miss Marple in there? Perhaps not, but Poirot, shuffling around in his dinner jacket, sipping an aperitif? Most certainly.
What We Ate: There’s a succinct menu of bar snacks and had I been there longer and with another cocktail or two, I could have easily made my way through the list. But, alas, time was against me and I expect my eyes were most likely deceiving my stomach. Instead, I settled for the two dishes, unlike many bars, the snacks here are quite substantial. The crispy calamari wasn’t quite crisp enough, but did have a slight sweetness to the batter, which might sound unusual but worked particularly well. If you only go for one thing, make it the mushroom aranchini and make sure you scoop up an unhealthy amount of truffle mayonnaise with it – they are truly excellent.
What We Drank: Thoughts on the new Murder on the Orient Express film? As an Agatha fan (currently reading and collecting a copy of every one of her novels) I wasn’t sure, David Suchet will always be Poirot to me and Poirot would never have gone running off after suspects and throwing himself over bridges, he’d have had a fit at the prospect, but I suppose they have to get some action in to use in the trailer. Before I start ranting, the reason I am talking about Murder on the Orient Express (or rather the Murder of the Murder on the Orient Express), is because Manetta’s has created four cocktails to coincide with the film, each named after a different aspect of the train.
The 3674 (named after the Orient Express’ original bar) is one for fans of the Old Fashioned. Balvenie 12 year-aged scotch, Averna, orange bitters and Applewood, it brings together a citrus flavour with a woody smokiness.
One which is sure to be an acquired taste is the Cote D’azur, just as Parma Violets are one of the most divisive sweets, the violet liqueur in the cocktail produces the same effect. Blue almond syrup gives the drink (and your tongue) a bright blue colour, similar to the bright colours of the glass sculptures in the first class carriage by artist René Lalique.
Go With: This has date night written all over. Don’t make it a first date location, go there a few dates in when you know them. At times the bar was rather quiet and you don’t want to make any first date silences any more awkward.
Final Word: Charming service, excellent cocktails and an atmosphere that felt truly relaxed but still with an air of grandeur, Manetta’s bar is one to visit.
Manetta’s Bar: 39 Clarges Street, Mayfair, W1J 7EW