Opposite Blackfriars tube station stands the Crowne Plaza hotel built upon the spot once occupied by the infamous Bridewell prison. At basement level we find the Voltaire Bar.
In a cunning twist the adjacent vaults under the pavement have been transformed into private snugs where a group can take cocktails plus cigars to share along with a bite from the lively burger menu.
At 7 pm we found the place relaxed despite the downbeat dance-music playing in the background. Décor is Phillipe Starck goes clubbing and the result is oversized furniture, curious lights & fittings that highlight strange-printed fabrics. It is pleasing with something interesting to look at in every direction and big relaxed booths for groups.
The menu – well it is brief – but food is not the main course here. The big attraction is a primary humidor of classic Cuban cigars sat beside another stocked with the tobacco produce of all other nations.
I was surprised that the Monte Christos were marked as a Medium / Full smoke – never my impression. Much stronger smokes can be found here. And of course there are a great many lively Cohibas!
Service was a little slack until Frankie our Maitre’D showed up – then it all came together. Trying out one of their “Sober” cocktails as recommended, we learned that the Afternoon Tea and Cocktails feature on the menu was very popular – and that the kitchen exclusively bakes all the pastries. A good omen I thought.
Gourmet burger with Foie Gras
I had the Gourmet burger which included a little Foie Gras and my companion had the Cheese burger. We waited a little while for these but when they came they were quite delicious and served on a brioche bun that was delightful and delicious.
Frankie’s carefully crafted cocktails were also a big hit and my Lime & Ginger & Fresh Mint concoction was to die for. You could probably go a long way from here to find better.
The hour of 7 is clearly downtime for this retreat and so it was not clear who a typical customer might be but I would guess it was the later than usual city type with an appetite for burgers and a damn fine cigar – best enjoyed in a vault with some good friends.
Voltaire delivers good value
Overall, Voltaire delivers good value for money on the food and drink – especially for a hotel – with an interesting design theme. On the cigars – if you like a Cuban smoke – you will not be disappointed. And do please try one of Frankie’s delicious cocktails!
19 New Bridge Street
City of London
020 7438 8054