On your average Friday or Saturday night, the streets of Soho are overwhelmed with revellers spilling out of every door. And with the regular opening of new bars and restaurants, the growth on Staunton and Elgin streets shows no sign of letting up. But, strangely enough, if you turn the corner and ascend Peel Street, the overrun, anorexic sidewalks and death-by-taxi moments disappear. At the upper end of the street the hoards miraculously evaporate, thoughts are audible, and the occasional tumbleweed rolls past. These steep inclines act as the perfect deterrent for people looking for the next easy drink, and thus a haven from the increasing madness of the Soho weekend. Alter Ego, a new bar perched upon the slopes, seizes upon this serenity.
As with many bars in the area, ‘small’, ‘long’, and ‘narrow’ amply describes the space it occupies. The first thing that you’re likely to notice when you enter (actually, it’s inescapable) is the slightly garish and over-the-top stained-glass window at the rear. Indeed, if you ever forget where you are, a glance at the back wall should be enough to remind you, with the bar’s logo beaming in gold from the centre of the brightly coloured pane.
The black and opaque mosaic bar is the next most striking element of Alter Ego, set amongst some strangely incongruous decorations, such as the old-world pub doors, the sprawling Chinese scroll above it, and the vaguely clichéd photographs of cocktails and canapés that grace the bar’s foremost walls.
In truth, the bar’s furnishings are hardly extravagant. It’s a simple drinking hole, filled with a reasonably standard formula for such a space – couches at the entrance and the rear, with high tables and red-leather stools (which, girls wearing heels should note, are damn high) dispersed around the remaining area.
More than anything, Alter Ego shows how important lighting is to a bar. A warm glow radiates throughout, from the Arabic-inspired lanterns, roof-facing spotlights and the back-lit bar – light enough to not feel dingy; sufficiently soft for a touch of romance. It could easily have erred on either side, but fortunately, the dimmers have been set just right, making an otherwise unspectacularly decorated bar feel rather welcoming.
Alter Ego’s solid and reasonably priced drinks menu (you’ll get a pint of Furstenberg Pilsener or Weisz for $50) probably best sums it up – pleasant and decent without trying to be the latest, chicest thing on the block. With an attentive and
friendly staff, and a chatty and convivial owner, it’s not a bad quiet drink spot.
It’s not really clear why it’s called Alter Ego – there’s nothing particularly schizophrenic about it all – although it at least gives Soho drinkers another option to bear in mind.
Shop B, G/F, 62-64 Peel St, Central, 3521 1291, H/H 5.30pm-8.30pm.
|Venue name:||Alter Ego (Closed)|