Monday, October 8, 2007

Champagne and Red Bull

Last night we went out. B works opposite what used to be called the NatWest Tower - a huge skyscraper with a footprint the shape of the NatWest symbol, which is now owned by someone else and called Tower 42. Hmmmm - rather like the architectural equivalent of a tattoo to whoever has since become your ex. Anyway, at the top of said icon of capitalism is a bar called Vertigo. We went there as a special treat.

Vertigo has a dress code, but if you have to ask what it is you're not smart enough. The building is undergoing simultaneous radical refurbishment and enhanced security, so to get to the lift you have to be x-rayed, scanned, frowned at, and then bumble between the hoardings and round corners of a building site feeling like a rat in a badly-designed experiment. You emerge eventually from the designated high speed lift to be met by a yellow chaise-longue with accompanying decoration of submerged exotic plant anatomy. Squeezing past this, you get to another reception desk, and see your first glimpse of The View. The City has very few really tall buildings (which is probably an official name), so from this RTB you get to see pretty much everything in London from the height of bird equipped with an oxygen supply. Just by the desk, the view is amazing - the river, the Eye, Parliament, all the bits you know. Right at this point though a waiter dressed like Chris Tarrant will firmly escort you to you designated area, from where you get an equally amazing view, only this time it's of Shoreditch and Hoxton.

The drinks list is Champagne only (in fairness an enquiry revealed that they do also have fruit juice). Olives and nuts are 8 pounds (no, not each, fortunately). There are 4 stools between 13 of us. We are privileged to be here though, and it's nice to be out in a special place with everyone dressed up. I wander round and look at the view after a while, so you are allowed to. Opposite the windows there is a mirrored wall, which goes round in a circle, making the bar effectively a doughnut with the kitchen in the middle. The ceiling is low, and the accoustics rapidly begin to exercize my voice to the same extent as Pippa on Box Hill. We stay for about an hour and a half, by which time I am feeling stressed by the noise and even more spoiled than normal.

We adjourn to the Throg. This is B's usual post-work watering-hole, and now goes nearly to the top of my list of homes-from-home in London. It's on a side street in the City, the buildings around so over-endowed with interest to me that any companion has to be seriously exciting to compete. Inside the Throg (more properly the Throgmorton) is over numerous floors, nearly all of which seem to be underground. I gather the building was originally the flagship of J Lyons coffee houses, but I just can't imagine it ever as a coffee shop! The walls are covered in small gold tiles, here and there embellished with inlay to create floral motifs - it all has a hint of Arabia to it, combined with an enticing whiff of having seen better times. On the ground floor there's a food shop; below that is the bar, with a restaurant hidden away behind it, and below that again is a games room and a very tatty lavatory. The food (if you'll pardon this insanitary jump) is top-notch normal: I had a Hereford beef burger with cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce that was the best burger I've ever had. And, after all the hanging about watching other people drink Champagne, to my great relief they serve Red Bull, so that's all right.

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