I love a winter terrace in London, it’s so fun to enjoy the snuggly atmosphere of a gorgeous grotto whilst still feeling the brisk London air on your skin and watching the world go by! The Vintage London Winter Terrace at The Churchill Bar in the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill is in quite simply the perfect location. You can complete a day of Christmas shopping and then head to the glamorous hotel for some winter warmers whilst still watching the iconic London buses whizz by.
Mr S and I had spent the early afternoon pounding the pavements of Bond Street before taking a ten minute walk up Oxford Street and through to Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill. Winter may be swiftly approaching but it was a blue skied day, the perfect weather for a few alfresco drinks.
There’s no Lion, Witch or Wardrobe but you’re still basically entering Narnia with the glittering icicles, the lamposts, snuggly rugs and cushions. You’re outside but there’s still plenty of heating, warm blankets and even hot water bottles to take any edge off.
As well as that Narnia feel there’s a vintage London vibe with classic memorabilia, a red letter box and an old railway station clock, after all isn’t Christmas all about nostalgia and that cosy feeling of the familiar?
I will warn you to stay clear of the seats around the edges, though it’s a covered terrace it’s still quite open to the elements and our first seat was a little damp but we were happy once on a dry rug further inside the terrace. Also as this is a terrace there are people smoking cigars – as a non-smoker I’m, not a fan!
The waiter gave us a whole cosy area to ourselves – apart from this guy. And trust me you’ll think he’s real at first! But it’s actually a life-sized bronze statue of the young Churchill enjoying a tipple and a cigar.
Churchill was incredibly fond of champagne (it’s well documented that Pol Roger was his favourite fizz) he claimed the four essentials of life were: “Hot baths, cold champagne, new peas and old brandy.’ and ‘A single glass of champagne imparts a feeling of exhilaration. The nerves are braced; the imagination is stirred; the wits become more nimble.’ Who am I to disagree with one of greatest ever Prime Ministers?
I chose Churchill’s Clementine Cocktail to be exact, first recorded in Jerry Thomas’s 1862 book ‘How to Mix Drinks’ – this version is a tribute to Churchill’s wife Clementine. A brown sugar cube is soaked in Clementine bitters and Hine Rare Cognac and then topped with champagne – Pol Roger of course!!
Mr S’s cocktail was rather more elaborate called ‘I am easily satisfied with the very best’ – another famous quote from Churchill who prefaced this phrase with ‘My tastes are simple.’ In homage to the man himself, the best spirits available make up this cocktail, it’s a mix of Botran 18 year old Colombian rum, stirred over lavender smoked ice with a bitter Italian liqueur, Cynar and Campari. It’s presented in this gorgous crystal carafe, perfume is spritzed in the air before it’s poured over a perfect ball of ice. The heady fragrances and smoky taste are the perfect winter warmer on a crisp and cold day.
If you hadn’t already guessed the cocktails here are inspired by Churchill and important moments in his life as well as people and places. There are nine winter cocktails created just for the season – the Victory celebrates the end of the first world war, The Journalist is a celebration of his passion for writing and the Nobel Prize win whereas the Time Out is a tribute to Morocco, Churchill’s favourite winter holiday destination.
Of course, serious Christmas shopping requires some serious fuel and Executive Chef Mark Sainsbury has introduced warming winter dishes to the menu. There are more substantial dishes, we saw heaped bowls of pasta, epic burgers and giant club sandwiches coming to the tables but we were in the mood to share a few of the nibbles.
The mini Angus beef steak tartares were absolutely seasoned to perfection.
Have your ever known me to see salmon on a menu and not order it? Though I think there may have been a mix up as we ordered smoked salmon blinis from the small bites menu and got smoked salmon and caper berries from the main menu instead. Either way it was super tasty!
And of course the hot food. If you don’t order anything else, I seriously urge you to get the croque monsieur, perfect bites coated with thick melted cheese and stuffed with wafer thin ham. The heady flavour of white truffle is infused throughout.
These are mini burgers but not just any mini burgers, they’re made with aged beef, mature cheddar, tomato and gherkin.
Lemon sole fingers have always been a staple in our house and these are served with a pot of garlic mayonnaise.
And here’s the whole spread – simple comfort food but elevated by excellent chefs and so so tasty.
Mr S loves a hot cocktail so he ordered a glass of Churchill’s Mulled Wine – this festive staple sees Churchill LBV port heated with full-bodied red wine, Courvoisier lemon and sugar and finished with star anise and orange. I chose another sparkling cocktail and the Blenheim Fizz celebrate’s Churchill’s family home, Blenheim Palace and it’s beautiful gardens and vineyards. Beluga vodka and grape syrup is balanced with freshly squeezed lemon, a top up of Pol Roger and Limoncello foam – this was my favourite cocktail as the flavours were so beautifully balanced between sweet and citrus.
I will say, though the service from the staff was fabulous – we arrived at 2.30 and with the time it took to bring the food we didn’t leave until after 5pm. Which is both a long time to be sitting at on a outdoor terrace and it cut into our planned shopping time. It was very busy though so that’s understandable and they bought an extra Blenheim Fizz to make up for it.
Having said that, we couldn’t leave without trying the chocolate fondue (yes, chocolate is more important than shopping). The Green & Blacks milk chocolate and praline is served in this gorgeous copper pot with homemade marshmallows, biscuits, strawberries and pineapple.
Although we had a few minor irks ay The Vintage London Winter Terrace with damp seats, cigar smoke and slow food, that didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the beautiful setting and I couldn’t fault the food either!
PIN FOR LATER:
The Churchill Bar & Terrace
30 Portman Square
020 7299 2035
Mr S and I were guests on The Churchill Bar & Terrace.