Steam & Rye

Words by Jane Ryan & Ian Cameron on 28-Nov-2013

Address: 147 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3V 4QT, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)203 701 8793
Website: view Steam & Rye’s website
Door: Open door/walk-ins
Style: Cocktail bar
Food: Set menu


With plenty of coverage in the mainstream media you could hardly avoid Steam & Rye's launch: actress-slash-model Kelly Brook has invested with Mahiki and Whisky Mist operator Nick House, and they joined a host of celebrity friends for the first night of this three-floored Americana-meets-Barnum theme bar. Since then things have calmed down enough to let us regular folk in.

The main floor is a cavernous room with film set-style railway decor, including station awning and carriage-style booth seating - sadly, the Grand Central theme and crude props seem incongruous with the setting and location, despite its history as a former office of the Bank of New York. The floor quickly becomes overcrowded with suited city types - pity the poor diners in the railway 'carriage'. Upstairs is a smaller bar packed with quirky 'treasures' (presumably eBay purchases - again, the effect seems overly contrived: it's done better at Mr Fogg's). In the basement, a low-ceilinged cocktail bar continues the railway theme but is more restrained and by far the most pleasant place to drink.

Cocktails are served across all three floors - a mixture of bracing and boozy classics, 'amusingly' named sweet or fruity confections and gimmicky sharing vessels styled after gold mining or Mount Rushmore, which you might like if you're easily impressed. Stick to the classics, which at least arrive balanced.

We visited more than once to check this was as disappointing as it felt first time around, but this just seems bizarre and appears to have been executed without thought to the locale or audience and lacks any sense of tongue in cheek. The staff are certainly knowledgeable and charming, but this just doesn't live up to the opening hype and brings to mind the adage: just because you can, doesn't mean you should.