Literally a match’s throw from Oxford Street a lively and bustling bar sets the scene for a good time in London’s West End. With an exclamation mark following its name, this speciality cocktail bar was re-launched in 2012 and yet to celebrate its first year anniversary is there to prove a point to the crowd. The flaming gas fires outside the entrance serve as a most inviting proposition to get away from the chills of the winter after a day spent shopping. Once you step in though you somehow get the feeling that the place is a little cramped up. It’s long and not so wide and the bar is right at the very end of place. There is plenty of seating however and even a standing area at the front and even at the bar for people in groups who just want to talk and make merry while downing their drinks. Making use of extremely dim lighting and an elegantly designed room with red and black leather sofas and couches with mirrors covering almost all parts of the brick and oak panelled walls, it sets a very cosy ambience albeit with loud thumping music. So it’s actually a little difficult to hold a conversation unless you are willing to raise your voice over the normal conversational decibel levels. Even though there were a few couples tucked away in small romantic alcoves by the wall, I’d say no to bringing a date here unless of course all you want to do is sit through the night looking into each other’s eyes (and avoid the talking).
The cocktails are what everyone here craves for and the menu and the bartenders don’t disappoint. Plenty of classic options to choose from along with some specially crafted ones which the menu calls the Magnificent 7. And boy, some of them do have some weird names like the ‘Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster’. For those who want to stick to the tried and trusted collection of beers, ciders and wines or for those steering away from alcohol, there’s quite a few options on that front as well. One of my friend’s wanted a a drink which was not on the menu but given his alcohol preferences, the bartender was only too happy to whip him up something off key.
Being a cocktail bar, the food menu is definitely not going to be very extensive but has enough to keep a party occupied with its shareable vegetarian, meat and sea food platters, the small eats and appetizers and its burger, sandwiches, hot dog and the classic British fish and chips. Having picked out the ‘sautéed potatoes with paprika and chorizo’ as well as the ‘tiger prawn skewers with sweet chili sauce’ to share and a ‘MATCH! beef burger with tomato, romaine lettuce and MATCH! chips with added cheese’, a ‘traditional beer battered fish and chips served with mushy peas and tartare sauce’ and a ‘BBQ seasoned glorious marinated pork neck served with MATCH! chips and side salad’ to satiate our individual cravings, none disappointed. The chorizo was very juicy and the potatoes with paprika complemented the flavour well as was the case with the crispy prawns with the chili sauce. My pick of the burger was definitely something different and refreshing from the burgers I have had in London so far. The bun was of a crisp kind slightly on the hard side but easy to the chomp on while the patty was deliciously meaty though a slightly bigger patty would have been preferred. The addition of the simple onions was a weird touch but didn’t really affect the flavour of the patty. I liked the coleslaw on the side and the fries (chips) were top notch – soft but crisp with a strong flavour.
Overall, I’d definitely give this place a thumbs up for the drinks, the food and the ambience (they have a DJ spinning beats on certain days) and well for the great time you could have there. Also, not to forget the service, it was extremely friendly and efficient and you won’t definitely be let down on that front. The bar could be a perfect spot for a party and you could check out more on them at http://www.matchbar.com/home.