A happy din of chatter and chinking glassware was echoing into the street as we approached Canova Hall’s slick, monochrome entrance. On a weekday night, the airy space was packed. Groups filled every table and bodies huddled around a huge, sweeping bar – a hub of bottles and bustle in the centre of a magnificent warehouse-style room.
This is the second offering from Albion and East, the group behind Hackney’s Martello Hall, and it retains its sister joint’s industrial glamour. The space – once the former workers’ hall of Britain’s first department store Le Bon Marché – is a cavernous concrete shell dotted with metal fixtures, faux-Tiffany lamps, and an oversized clock, giving a faded art deco grandeur. Meanwhile the busy open kitchen and lines of long tables scream of vibrant, continental food halls, tastefully combining old-time glam and urbanite cool. You could see a modern-day Jay Gatsby sipping martinis here.
The drinks menu is extensive and impressive with inventive takes on classic cocktails, a great selection of wine on tap, and a fine choice of absinthe, which they serve in the classic French style. The bar intends to produce its own gin from a bespoke still being shipped over from the States that they’re calling ‘Grace’. She was yet to arrive on my visit, so I opted for a silky, sweet hazelnut espresso martini, while my companion’s old fashioned was well blended with a crisp sweetness against a deep, smoky backdrop. We paired drinks with a gorgeously fragrant truffle taleggio-topped pizza and perfectly crisp zucchini fries.
The staff were friendly and welcoming, if a tad slow, but you can book a bartender to create personalised cocktails if it’s the ultimate Gatsby night you’re after.