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Electric Bird Cage

Trafalgar Square

The distinctively theatrical hand of bar and club designer Shaun Clarkson - responsible for Covent Garden's Denim, La Pigalle and countless other opulent interiors - is strikingly evident in his latest bar design. The Electric Bird Cage is clearly intended to be a style destination per se, rather than just a watering hole and its decor - a mix of contemporary Chinoiserie and Jeff Koons-ish kitsch - exudes the kind of idiosyncratic taste that has become Clarkson's trademark.

Visitors are greeted at the entrance before being ushered in to the main room, which is dominated by a dramatic, black and cream carousel bar beneath a high and elegant red stucco ceiling and featuring matching banquettes and cushions ranged around the matt black-painted walls, plus glass-topped turquoise tables with companion wicker stools. Guarding the entrance to the elegant, larger rear room (closed on quiet nights, as when we visited) are two huge, snarling panthers cast in black polymer, and beyond them, a display case full of painted wooden birdcages.

On a relaxed Monday evening the staff outnumbered the customers, but there was Barbara Windsor: downstairs in the women's toilets, her youthful monochrome portrait in a triptych that looms over two turquoise seats cast in the shape of upturned hands.

The drinks menu - which offers everything from green tea to beers, wines, champagnes, premium spirits and exclusive cocktails - is as imaginative as you'd expect of such a classy joint. Alongside the classic mint Mojito, there's also a coriander version, while the Frozen Vanilla Honey Bee (Absolut Vanilla, Kahlúa, Bailey's, honey liqueur Bärenjäger and vanilla ice cream) proves the venue's eccentricities aren't restricted to décor. To eat, there's a mix of oriental nibbles and dim sum. The sole sour note is struck by the music, a grisly (if mercifully quiet) mix of Café del Mar-style 'chill-out' and Chinese coffee-table pop. Even Babs would know that's far from hip.

Venue name: Electric Bird Cage
Contact:
Address: 11 Haymarket
London
SW1Y 4BP
Opening hours: Open Mon-Wed 12noon-11pm; Thur, Fri 12noon-4am; Sat 5pm-4am
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus tube
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