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A French-themed bar occupying an old tobacconist’s in Kentish Town.
Aimez-vous la romance? Then you’ll love Tabac, a tiny bar in Kentish Town that’s oh-so French and très, très romantique, run by the same French-English couple behind Patron Cave à Manger on the same road. A former tobacconist’s, this narrow space is slick but rustic, with mid-century-style furniture scattered about the space among the flowers, trinkets and French memorabilia. Bookshelves stacked with old tobacco tins line the back wall, and one of those heavy, sliding ladders screens my favourite table: a cosy, candlelit booth for two (superstition be damned).
But no matter where you sit, you’ll be enchanted. There’s a spacious table flooded with natural light from the front windows, a smaller, cosy one next to the fire, plus a narrow bar counter and some further intimate tables for two.
French ’50s music played softly as I sipped one of the best cocktails I’ve had in London. The Lemon Garden was a super-smooth gin Martini, bright with flavour, mixed with a small splash of bitters and topped with a fragrant sprig of lemon thyme. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, the Holywater was a heady but delicately balanced mix of rum, cognac, lime and grapefruit. Food on offer paired well with the theme and the drinks, since it was cheesy and delicious (try the truffle honey goat’s cheese) and the bartenders were as charming as you’d expect from a French bar.
Elsewhere on the menu is a small, curated list of fine wine, great drops all available by the glass (thanks to a fancy enomatic machine), and, though I can’t say I recommend them, you can also buy French cigarettes. A tobacco shop that, instead of vape juice, sells real cigarettes, cocktails and wine? Pure romance.
It’s the place you go alone, to part with your secrets of the day with the charming bartender over a Ricard. It’s the place you go to hide away, in the corner booth to immediately feel consumed with one another’s company over endless ballons of wine. It’s the place you go with friends, to be submerged amidst the laughter and electric energy sipping on unrecognisable cocktails.
This is the place to be tonight. Where are you?