Well, firstly can I say a belated Happy New Year! I trust 2013 is treating you so far, so good. January really is a grim month, but I managed to emerge from hibernation this week so I could go and check out a new bar in the heart of Chinatown, the Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Emporium Tucked behind a jade green door on Gerrard Street, you are greeted by the smiliest, friendliest bouncer I've ever met. Ushered upstairs, the attentive staff showed us to a great table in The Attic area which was very inviting with comfy retro furniture, discreet booths, Chinese prints adorning the walls, and the lingering scent of incense sticks. It felt just how I imagine a Shanghai speakeasy to be.
Located on various levels, Opium is more than just a cocktail bar. It's a collection of rooms which can be used as a venue for events, lunches or even creative work meetings. As well as The Attic, there is an Apothecary Lounge which is a great spot for afternoon tea (and apparently where they create Chinese medicinal potions). There's a room called The Den for private dining and parties (up to 25 people), and the red glass window overlooks a secret alleyway, believed to be the real Chinatown...
Although my friend and I were having a booze-free evening, the cocktails all sounded delicious and intriguing. Had I been drinking, I reckon a kumquat-infused Laughing Buddha, a Double Bubble or even a smoking Opium Signature Cocktail No.1 (all complete with fortune cookies) would have gone down a storm.
We chose a selection of dim sum, including samphire & crab, and scallop & coriander dumplings which were all excellent. But very overpriced. Our bill came to £62 for seven portions of dim sum and a couple of soft drinks which seems pretty steep to me. Especially as being in the heart of Chinatown, there are many equally good dim sum houses literally within spitting distance for a fraction of the price. I'd say Opium is definitely worth going to if you want to indulge in their excellent cocktails (served on gorgeous coasters I might add). Then eat your heart out elsewhere.
With the Experimental Cocktail Club a couple of doors away, Chinatown is proving to be a great spot for Londoners to avoid the oblivious Peking duck-munching tourists and enjoy clandestine cocktails. And with Chinese new year approaching on 10th Feb, I reckon Opium is the place to go and celebrate the Year of the Snake.
Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Emporium
Behind the Jade Door
15 - 16 Gerrard Street
London W1D 6JA
Tel: 020 7734 7276
Mon - Sat 5pm til midnight
Sunday 12pm til Midnight (from 10th Feb 2013)