House of Wolf
181 Upper St
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Sat Oct 27 2012
House of Wolf is a self-described ‘three-story (sic) Victorian lair’ with ‘experimental dining, drinking and live entertainment… under one roof.’ And the building does indeed have several bars and dining areas, all exuding a steampunk-ish aesthetic. Instead of a single resident chef, House of Wolf promises a rota of monthly pop-up chef ‘residencies’.
The ground-floor bar with its draught lagers and so-so wine list isn’t particularly lair-like, but climb the stairs to the ‘Apothecary Bar’, with its leather chairs and Victoriana and things look up. Beneath a huge ‘prescriptions’ sign is the bar counter, behind which a flat-capped gent in a white lab coat dispenses personalised cocktail recommendations along with drinks that look like they could transform the good Dr Jekyll to Mr Hyde. Suspend your disbelief and play along, festival-style.
And the drinks do live up to the hype. The short list of ‘apothecary drinks’ and the daily specials board are where things get serious – any one of these will thrill. Stephen Quainton and his team don’t merely mix drinks: they combine elixirs, they distil potions and decant decoctions. They even make their own botanicals and syrups. A ‘David Bellamy’ came with a Sichuan pepper bud in a fake flower, and an instruction to eat the bud first. Twenty mouth-numbing minutes later, the drink was still changing flavour as I sucked contemplatively through the straw. Or if bling’s your thing, ask for the wearable cocktail, which comes on a gold and diamante chain to hang around your neck.
If you think this all sounds terrific, there is one huge caveat. You’ll need to phone or email and make a reservation first – and hope for more success than we had (three attempts out of four to bag a table failed, with neither calls nor emails returned).
Our favourable four-star rating does, of course, rely on you being able to get past the bouncer and clipboard on the door – unable to book, we eventually got in on our second attempt only by showing up in person at the door and smiling nicely (a practice known as a ‘walk-in’). Your own star rating may therefore read rather differently if you are one of the many unable to book or get in.
Given the steampunk approach of House of Wolf, perhaps the correct procedure is to arrange for your footman to make the arrangements telegraphically?
House of Wolf 181 Upper St
020 7288 1470
Tube: Highbury & Islington tube/rail or Angel tube
House of Wolf
- 181 Upper St
- 020 7288 1470
- 181 Upper St
- House of Wolf
Eating and drinking facilities. Bar. Restaurant. Restaurant and bar facilities. Function rooms. General facilities. Available for hire
Drinks. Cocktails. Hip factor. Mood. Unique. Unique London
- Type of event: