The welcome: It
is not clear at first sight whether Victory Mansion is a cocktail bar or a restaurant,
and no waiter appeared as we stepped inside, but before long one of the bartenders
emerged from behind the bar and we were happily perusing the food menu.
The room: The
feel is more bar than restaurant, and the bar itself dominates the room. The décor errs on just the right side of twee: antique
cocktail shakers by the dozen adorn the bar; tropical wallpaper and green
leather clash pleasantly with dark wood and subdued lighting. The overall
atmosphere is jovial and warm.
The food: The
food menu comprises a list of small plates, each the perfect size for sharing.
Some were excellent; the baby artichokes fried in buttermilk batter with a
confit duck yolk and Parmesan is moreishly crisp and unctuous without being
greasy or heavy, and the heritage tomato salad is smartly dressed with, among
other things, capers and garlic honey.
Sadly, some dishes are less exciting than they sound.
Mussels are stuffed with spinach, coconut and turmeric, which is a tasty
combination but leaves the mussels somewhat overpowered, and the lamb rump with
green tomato, apricot and sour cream is underwhelming; though it is nicely
pink, the meat is not as tender as the dish calls for.
The puddings are much better. Liquorice walnuts add crunch
and a dash of herbal darkness to poached peaches in vanilla custard, and the
cookie dough madeleines constitute a powerful argument for taking cookie dough
The cocktail menu is where
Victory Mansion really shines. The Catch-22, a variation on the classic
Sazerac (a New Orleans whisky and absinthe cocktail), boasts 22 separate ingredients, yet remains balanced and
subtle. There is more than a hint of kitsch in The Rye, The Rich and the
Wardrobe, a concoction of biscuit-infused rye whiskey and dry vermouth served
in a miniature wardrobe complete with a rich tea biscuit. The garnish isn’t
just a gimmick though: it cuts right through the cocktail’s sweetness.
After the cocktails, a glass of the house red is something
of a let down; this is possibly symptomatic of a restaurant trying to do too much;
as a cocktail bar with a solid range of small plates, Victory Mansion is
excellent, but as a destination for a leisurely dinner and perhaps a bottle of
wine, it is less exciting.
Would we go again?
For dinner, perhaps not. For cocktails and nibbles? Absolutely.
|What||Victory Mansion restaurant review, Stoke Newington|
|Where||Victory Mansion, 18 Stoke Newington High St, London, N16 7PL | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Dalston Kingsland (overground)|
01 Oct 15 – 01 Oct 22, 12:00 AM