New? Not at all – Voltaire opened as a part of the Crowne Plaza London hotel back in 2003. It was, however, refurbished in 2013 following the discovery of the vaults.
Where? 19 New Bridge Street, City of London, EC4V 6DB www.voltairebar.com
First Impressions: Given the need to walk off the bustling streets and down a narrow, metal staircase, you could be forgiven for wandering straight past the entrance to Voltaire. Once inside, however, it’s a whole new story. The bar exudes a sense of luxury and class. The waiting staff were friendly and swift in their delivery of food, happy to chat about the menu and help recommend cocktails.
The Look: The main bar of Voltaire, as previous stated, exudes luxury and elegance. Bottles upon bottles of champagne line the walls, giving guests an idea of what they may find on the menu, and the plush, cushion-covered seating is more than inviting. Walking in it’s hard not to imagine setting up camp for the evening and letting the drink flow. Outside, the vaults are equally as inviting. Under-floor heating keeps them warm even on the colder evenings and the cushions mean getting comfortable is almost too easy. The individual booth speakers are a nice touch, meaning guests can listen to their own music via Bluetooth, and it’s easy to forget you’re in a bar and not hanging out in your own private room.
On The Menu: Voltaire specializes as a cocktail and champagne bar, so the food menu is far from extensive. If you’re looking for more than burgers or hotdogs you’re out of luck, however the range of these on offer is decent. A selection of meats – beef, chicken or lamb – as well as a mushroom option for veggies, each with suitable and well-selected garnish, is available for those looking for something familiar. For those feeling a little more decadent, the gourmet burger is on offer, comprised of beef tenderized in Himalayan salt and topped, alongside garnish, with seared foie gras. The aptly named “Not a Burger” list comprises of 2 types of hotdog – plain and BLT – or a caesar salad for those so inclined.
What We Ate: For main course we opted, after not much deliberation, for a Gourmet burger. Aged and tenderized beef, seasoned and served in a toasted brioche roll with fried onions and a topped off with seared foie gras. The buger was juicy and packed full of flavour, and despite the beef being slightly overdone the dish was delicious. The choice to serve tortilla chips as a side was an interesting one, but fitted in nicely with the relaxed, social, not-a-restaurant feel to the rest of the venue, and fries, onion rings and chunky chips are all available as sides.
What We Drank: The extensive drinks list means a lot is on offer at Voltaire. On the recommendation of our waitress we opted for Port Light – a mix of Jack Daniels, pomegranate juice, lime juice, sugar syrup and fresh passionfruit. The concept of the drink seemed overly sweet to me, however in reality the flavours were perfectly balanced – sweet and fruity with a strong kick from the whiskey. Not a combination I had tried before but one I would definitely go back to.
Go With: Colleagues after work or with a group of mates on the weekend for an interesting and unique drinking experience.
Final Word: While Voltaire maybe not the place to go specifically for dinner (not that it claims to be), it is the perfect spot to head with a few friends, get comfortable in a unique and inviting setting, and watch the hours tick by.