London doesn’t get much more lah-de-dah than Coquine, which is located on the exclusive end of the Old Brompton Road near the Little Boltons, which – don’t be fooled – aren’t very little at all. They’re massive mansions that cost a lot of money. People actually live in them. Remarkable.
Highfalutin and heavily designed by bar designer Lee Broom, it certainly doesn’t lack in the looks department and, on our visit, was filled almost exclusively with French folk.
In the back room, dedicated followers of dapper design will no doubt get excited about the decanter chandelier. Made from an array of antique decanters, it dangles above a mirrored dining table set low, but high enough to comfortably fit Nicolas Sarkozy underneath.
The main bar, shaped like the Z-block in ‘Tetris’, is similarly chic, with lampshades lined with Persian rugs, turquoise crushed velvet banquettes, dark floors and marine and green tiles.
Downstairs in the clubbier basement, the decadence deepens with darker hues, DJs at weekends, intimate, canoodle-friendly alcoves and flashes of renaissance art. It’s all a bit VIP.
The food menu’s rich in both cost and cuisine, with some fundamentally French dishes including foie gras on brioche with egg, steak tartare and… er… french fries. A ‘raw bar’ section offers oysters, a maki sushi platter and tuna sashimi, which are less French but still a bit pricey.
‘Coquine’ means ‘mischievous’ or ‘rogue’ in French and the cocktail prices are certainly cheeky. Berets off to them: the menu is creative and cleverly compiled, but when asked for a liquorice-infused tequila old fashioned, priced at £9.50, the bartender went all Marcel Marceau by pretending the special spirit was available when it wasn’t.
A normal old fashioned, using a mainstream bourbon, was offered instead – and we were charged £12. Like a flick-knife on a sixth-form trip to Dieppe, it really shouldn’t be allowed. Even for a Chelsea Charlie, £12 for an old-fashioned is a ridiculous chunk of change – especially for those allies across la Manche who work a 35-hour week with five months’ holiday a year and dedicate 28 days of that year to striking.
For more than a hundred quid, the bar also sells bottles of bubbly and entire bottles of spirits, alongside a list of Champagne cocktails named after French actresses such as Audrey Tautou, Sophia Loren and the tasty waitress from René’s cafe in ‘’Allo ’Allo’. (I made one of those up.)
Surrounded by a healthy and haughty crowd all sporting Roland Garros suntans, you can’t help feeling fugly here.