Regular readers of this column might remember mine and the Delightful Dining Companion’s recent trip to the newly opened Balham branch of the Foxlow late last year. Here we were treated to a quite excellent meal, and it was therefore a pleasant surprise to be invited back to the opening of their new bar, the Owl.
The Owl is situated in a basement beneath the main restaurant and reached by going down a small spiral staircase. The fact that it’s not immediately apparent where it is (there’s no great big neon sign flickering on and off in shape of an owl,) and its cosy, dimly lit interior mean that it’s very reminiscent of the speakeasy bars of Hoxton and the West End.
This is probably no accident as the team who’ve brought us the Owl were previously responsible for the multi accolade winning bar at the Hawksmoor, Spitalfields, one of the progenitors of the trend. The room itself is an elongated rectangle with the bar covering about two thirds of the length of one wall. Tables are arranged in an L shape around the bar with bar stools offering perching opportunities for those like me who want to be closest to the action.
We were shown to a table in the corner away from the door and given a complimentary drink, of the joys of being an invited guest. Once seated
I had a further look around, the interior is tasteful with the walls covered in green tiling which works well with the lighting.
The cocktail list changes frequently and the one we were presented with had 11 choices, all of which I was unfamiliar with. The manager, Naomi, told us a bit of the story behind the bar and owned up to being the creator of a number of the drinks including the Taxi Driver.
As we were there to sample cocktails as well as the ambience both myself and the DDC got pretty well stuck in and tried a fair sample. As well as cocktails, the bar does a range of wines (3 reds, 3 whites & 2 sparkling) and a couple of beers. There is also a very limited range of snacks, including smoked almonds, kabanos and olives.
The drinks aren’t cheap with cocktails all settling around the £9 mark and wines starting at £26 a bottle. We didn’t sample the wines or the beer even, but the cocktails were I have to say very good and far better than I would normally encounter in a neighbourhood bar.
For the DDC the stand out was the Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew, a full tankards worth of gin, ginger, lemon and London Pride. I have to say it looked great and tasted pretty much like an alcoholic ginger beer shandy. The Taxi Driver was a bit of revelation being one of the first cocktails I’ve tried that was banana based, and I have to say it was great.
I have to say I really liked the Owl, but do worry about it. The drinks, the surroundings are as I said earlier very Soho/Shoreditch but so are the prices. This is the sort of place in Shoreditch that you’d drop in for a couple before going to dinner somewhere else, and this could work here as well, as the Foxlow is course right upstairs.
As somewhere to start or end a great meal I would highly recommend this, for a night on the town though it could prove to be an expensive option. One great thing though is without a big sign it is difficult to find and I might try to keep it all to myself.