Absolut Ice Bar, London
6 reviews from the community
Review of "Absolut Ice Bar, London"
"Ice Ice Baby … do do … do do … do do ... do do!"Absolut Ice Bar London
31-33 Heddon Street
I had heard about this bar about a year ago and was very keen to visit it, having been fascinated by the concept of the Ice Hotel located in Jukkasjärvi in Sweden. I had spoken to one of our account managers about it as she had been and had it in mind as a good place for a first date!However, the bar does get very busy in the evening and booking in advance is to be recommended to ensure you are not disappointed and having to queue upon arrival.
"Purposely designed" …. A strange statement that isn't it? I mean, it's not as if they were building a retail store and then someone said, "I know, let's turn it into a bar!"Anyway, enough of that. The bar is located within very easy reach of Piccadilly Circus, which is the nearest tube station, only a 5-minute walk away.
Opening hours are Monday to Sunday between 11.30am and 11.30pm~~~~~~
As I noted at the outset, it is a bar I had wanted to go to for some time and as I tend to be in London a lot, every week over the last month in fact, then it was about time I made the effort to check it out.One of my account managers, Bev, was happy to take me along having already experienced it herself and keen to repeat the experience. With a visit to London mid-week, we set up a rendezvous for Wednesday evening, with dinner beforehand.
I was a little late to arrive at the time we had agreed as I had been catching up with one of my best mates who works in the city, and the circle line from Bank was suffering from delays in excess of 15-minutes. Always annoying when you are below ground and can't send a text to advise.As I emerged from the underground, my mobile telephone bleeped at me informing me that I had a new voice message. As I began the short walk up Regent Street, taking it the glittery shine of the recently erected Christmas lights, I listened to the voice message.
"Alan, I've just come upstairs to get a signal as I have been down in the restaurant and just wanted to ensure you haven't got lost! See you shortly. Bev"
Bugger, I had only missed her call by seconds and could have reassured her I was only minutes away.
The Absolut Ice Bar is located in the top left hand corner of Heddon Street. As I approached, I noted a rather larger queue of people standing in the door way, which snaked along the right hand side beyond a reception desk where a receptionist was busy consulting with a couple. I made the assumption that I needed to stand and wait but noted after a couple of minutes there was not much movement.I tried to call Bev on her mobile, as she was nowhere in sight but only managed to obtain her voicemail, concluding that she must have returned downstairs to the restaurant to wait for Monsieur Tardy.
A few more minutes passed and a young lad approached the door and squeezed by the queue and into the building, making his way around to the left out of my line of vision. I made the decision to follow his lead and venture on inside, squeezing by the two young Russian looking ladies who were stood jut ahead of me in the queue. Well, I couldn't stand there in the cold checking them out all night could I?!! lolAs I entered, I noted that the queue actually lead up to a doorway to the right and noted that this was the entrance to the Ice Bar. To my left was a lounge and bar, which was modern and Scandinavian in design, with tables and occasional chairs scattered around its open plan. Immediately ahead of me was a flight of stairs leading downwards to what turned out to be the restaurant.
It is described as a "luxurious stylish lounge/restaurant venue that is all about comfort and sensory experience."As I descended the stairs, I noted the toilets were located immediately in front of me and the restaurant was through a set of double doors to the left, with a welcome bar immediately located on the right. As I passed a number of businessmen stood at the end of the bar, there was Bev busily shoving some work files into her laptop case.
"Sorry I'm late" I announced on approach as I glanced at my watch to note I was a full 20-minutes behind schedule. Very unlike me actually, but that's public transport for you!I was forgiven, and we were swiftly escorted through into the main restaurant.
The restaurant struck me as being very trendy and modern in design and was definitely designed with a sensory experience in mind. The lighting was soft with use of dimmed spot lights (I think!) to give an interesting shadowy effect to areas of the room.There were also a number of alcoves around the perimeter of the main restaurant allowing couples to relax and enjoy their meals in added privacy if so desired, rather than the exposure of the open plan restaurant.
I arrived a little after 8pm and we were booked into the 8.45pm slot in the Ice Bar, so Bev moved this slot back to 9.30pm to ensure yours truly had enough time to eat both a starter and a main.The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner and has menus to suit. The menus can be downloaded from the official website, but I will give you a taster for the dinner menu in due course.
The service could be divided into two categories centred upon speed and friendliness of the staff, which I will also come to in due course.There are two choices of evening menu, either the "Grazing menu" or the "A la carte menu". We opted to go for the A la Carte menu but were given the drinks menu to order some wine first. Bev ordered a bottle of white wine in the range of £16-£20 bottle, but I really have no idea what grape we were drinking. However, it was a dry white and it was very good!
The starters ranged in cost between £6-£14, and included oysters, foie gras with wood pigeon and ham hock, seared duck breast, poached lobster, tartlet of wild mushroom, scallops, and mussels.Service was very friendly and helpful, as we had a little banter with the French waiter. He was certainly a nice young friendly chap.
The tables were quite small in size and low to the floor, as were the leather seats. It made me think that the restaurant was best suited to the Chinese community because as a male of over 6 foot in height, I had to sit with my legs either side of the seat, but it was actually surprisingly comfortable and relaxed.~~~~~~~~
Bev did not want a starter, but I opted for the Seared duck breast with red wine poached cherries and frisee salad, priced at ten English pounds. The starter was served in under 10-minutes and was very substantial.I do find with duck that it can be very fatty and chewy, which was certainly the case with my starter, so I proceeded in trimming this off each of the slices and making a right old mess of the chefs presentation, as I piled fat and gristle high on the side of my plate! However, it was very succulent and certainly recommended.
There were 5 mains to choose from, which ranged in price from £16-£24, which is very well priced for a popular and trendy London restaurant. The mains comprised of roast beef fillet, pan fried monkfish, porcini and asparagus risotto, roasted guinea fowl, and saddle of reindeer.Now, I was quite tempted by the reindeer, as I had never before eaten this meat and yet that is despite a visit to South Africa when I thought I had pretty much tried every meat known to man (Springbok, Kudu, Ostrich, Crocodile, Rabbit, Kangaroo)! However, it seemed a little sacrilegious to eat reindeer this close to Christmas, so I then considered the Monkfish before opting for the Roasted Guinea Fowl supreme with chestnuts and baby vegetable medley. Bev plumped for the Roasted Beef fillet with Chanterelle Cassoulet and Seared Foie Gras. I will be honest, we didn't have a clue what "Chanterelle" was but the friendly Frenchman informed us it was Mushroom. Bev also promptly ordered some side orders to share, green beans and new potatoes.
As we were busily chatting, we hadn't noted the time that had passed since I had finished my starter. As I was waiting for one of my mates to send me a text to let me know how Everton were doing at home to Arsenal in the Carling Cup I glanced at my watch to see the time. It was now 9.05pm and we become a little concerned that as we had not yet been served our mains, we were unlikely to finish in time for the 9.30pm slot in the Ice bar!Bev asked the waiter whether we would receive our mains in time for the 9.30pm slot and he answered positively, as I dashed upstairs to get a mobile signal and check on Everton's progress! Nil-nil, with forty minutes to play but a man sent off after 17 minutes. Well done James McFadden I thought, as I dashed back downstairs to the restaurant!
As I sat down, our main courses were served, which had taken an hour from the time of order, in a restaurant with only 10-12 other customers and also bearing in mind my starter had been finished a good half an hour earlier. As I do tend to spend a lot of time eating out, I do compare and contrast service and this was certainly on the slow side despite a moderately quiet restaurant. The fact that we hadn't really noticed though was probably a good reflection on the restaurant and the comfortable and relaxing ambiance it had created for conversation, so I am trying not to judge this too harshly!Bev assured me that the Roasted Frank was very tasty (Sorry, allow me to explain, Frank Leboeuf was a famous French footballer and Le Boeuf is French for Beef, so I always call Beef Frank).
My Roasted Guinea Fowl was absolutely divine. It was cooked to perfection and was very succulent and tasty. I always think when I can remember a meal for the food, it has been special and it is very rare that this occurs. Only on two other occasions in the past year can I remember a meal and I probably eat out at least 3 times a week on average.As we were a little pushed for time, we didn't order desserts priced between £6-£8. The dessert menu included War Chocolate Brownies, Marsala Poached Peaches, Freshly made Ice Cream, Honeyed Figs, Caramel Cheesecake, and Cheese Board.
Absolut Ice Bar
The price includes;- Designer thermal cape, with thermal gloves attached.
- Personal ice glass (elaborate glass tumbler made from ice)
- Choice of Vodka cocktail in your glass (or a non alcoholic drink)
Booking entrance to the bar is not mandatory, but it is advisable due to the popularity of the bar. You can either book a 40-minute slot in the Ice Bar on it's own, or alternatively book it as part of a package combined with a lunch or dinner booking in Below Zero.The designer thermal cape is actually quite a flashy silver number with white fluffy bits around its hood. I have to say; I was quite disappointed to note there were around 25 other people all dressed in the same outfit as I when I entered the bar!!
The bar is kept at a constant minus 5 degrees all year round and everything inside is made from crystal clear ice transported especially from the Torne River in Jukkasjärvi in Sweden, home of the Ice Hotel no less!You will note large crystal clear ice blocks make up the perimeter of the room, with the bar situated in the rear right hand corner and made entirely of ice. It's quite a sight, as are the occasional standing tables and the ice feature that you are able to stand within for photographs (I need to get a copy of these and upload them!).
It is like entering a very large fridge and feels very fresh at first rather than ice cold, but after 5-minutes standing in the bar, your feet and hands do start to experience frostbite! The Vodka cocktails are VERY strong and it didn't surprise me to note that the cost of a refill was as much as £6. A non-alcoholic drink refill however is £3, which does appear a little costly to me!Needless to say, the Vodka cocktails were rather potent and went a little way to putting an additional coat on protecting against the freezing temperature.
We lasted 20-minutes and opted to make a dart back into the Below Zero lounge and warmth!To keep the bar "fresh" (hahaha … have you noted what I have done there?!?!!?) it is completely reconstructed every six months with a completely new design.
The food was excellent, despite lax service times, and the staff were extremely friendly, which can frequently be the toughest thing to buy. We were not in a hurry to get anywhere but merely to ensure we didn't miss the opportunity to experience the Ice Bar or allow the night to creep on too late, as we both had busy work schedules the next day. So, I would ensure that a repeat visit is not to be followed by any other plans, just in case I am to have a repeat experience.Thanks for reading!
Product Information : Absolut Ice Bar, London
Manufacturer's product descriptionBar
Listed on Ciao since: 07/06/2006