Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Cadogan Place, London, SW1X 9PY , United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7858 7250
Website: View bar's website
Style: Restaurant bar
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: High-end
Food: Full menu
A revamp for what was a staid Knightsbridge hotel restaurant has moved the bar to a central stage position and had an uncharacteristically restrained tarting up by designer du jour Martin Brudnizki (Ivy Club, St Pancras Grand etc). Gone are the tired old fabrics and in are slicker leather finishes, a surprisingly funky soundtrack and a new drinks menu. Now, that menu: it promises a 'ramble through the English countryside', 'tips its hat' to 'London dandies' and 'pays homage to the air of nonchalance that clouded these bourgeois bohemians'. We presume the hotel caters to a staple of tourists that would lap such sappy sentiment up. A pun-heavy list of cocktail names (there's For Peat's Sake on a whisky cocktail, or there's Sloely but Surely for a sloe-influenced champagne cocktail) also smacks of catering to the easily impressionable rather than seasoned drinks aficionados.
That said, the drinks are executed well-enough, certainly with five-star aplomb and service. A gin bar in itself is no longer exciting but at least here they're not just trading on the sheer number of gins they carry: a list of gin and single botanical-flavoured bitters (eg Lavender, Liquorice, Peppermint, Cardamon etc) allows drinkers to create a bespoke G&T, Collins, Martini etc. We tried a Lavender Gin Martini, were recommended Bloom Gin, and our alarm over the amount of bitters they coated our glass with was shortlived: it made for an unusual and tasty drink.
The honeyed flavour of the For Peat's Sake, presented over a single block of hand-chipped ice, was akin to a serving of Drambuie - that's not an insult, it makes for an accessible whisky cocktail even if we don't like the name. A twist on a Gimlet used vodka instead of gin, but the homemade kaffir lime syrup made for an authentic tasting and refreshing serve. The drinks tend to the sweet and fruity side here: there's less here for those looking for a robust, spirituous hit.
This being the Rib Room, famed for its Aberdeen Angus beef from the Duke of Buccleugh's Scottish estates, there's little point in leaving without sampling something meaty: we recommend the roast beef baps.
The meaty menu draws comparisons with steak specialist Hawksmoor (just launching its third venue in Guildhall) and the solid reputation of Goodman. The makeover should give the old school Rib Room a deserved new lease of life, though in comparison to the quality of Hawksmoor's cocktails we struggle to give more than .