An underground clubhouse with chorizo corndogs and cocktails? Sign us up.
The cocktail bar underneath Riley Street Garage is as cosy as the restaurant above it is expansive. Upstairs is for when you want to take a seat around a huge island bar and vanish freshly shucked oysters and Champagne in equal measure. But from Thursday through to Saturday you can also squirrel yourself away in the downstairs drinks den called Busby. If you get in early you might just snag the big leather couch and armchairs for optimal lounging, but there’s also plenty of seats along the banquette, a big communal table and more seats up the back.
Behind the gun-metal grey trolley bar bottles of American whiskies, tequilas, rums and gins have that come hither backlit glow that is very hard to resist. Of course if you like to ease into a Friday night there’s Hoegarden, 4 Pines and Pacifico brews, but we promise that a vintage Nick and Nora glass of Aperol, Amaro Montenegro, blood orange liqueur, grapefruit, lemon and egg white is just as gentle and a lot more interesting to drink. They call it a Blood Diamond and it’s a little dusky red aperitif that it bracingly bitter and citrusy, but without going overboard.
The Pink Lace sits way at the other end of the spectrum. Mezcal, Aperol, elderflower liqueur and bitters with a dried sprig of lavender as a garnish condenses the floral, herbal and slightly smoky flavours of a winter getaway into an Old Fashioned glass.
It’s only a small snack, but the salmon or tuna tartare brightened with yuzu, seasoned with a miso dressing and served with potato crisps is probably our favourite rework of fish and chips to date. And the finger food fun doesn’t stop there unless you forget to order the little balls of chorizo sausage in a corndog batter with a mustard mayo and pickles.
A big part of Riley Street Garage’s appeal is the setting. The beautifully restored Art Deco garage makes you feel like you’re eating in an upscale Manhattan brasserie. But when you’re looking for a small bar vibe with their drinks and snacks game on lock, we’ll tuck ourselves down in Busby, the inner city clubhouse we’ve been waiting for.
55 Riley St
|Opening hours:||Thu-Sat 6pm-midnight|