Jijay’s Bar & Lounge has only been open since March this year, but judging by the empty tables, it seems to have done such a good job of hiding itself that it’s a little too secret, and as a result is failing to attract a flow of customers...yet. It’s offering, though, is worth exploring. All cocktails are priced at £12, and many are based on a classic tipple but inflected with Indian spices and tasty notes from the Lokhandwala district of Mumbai, where the bar takes its inspiration.
I opted to try the ‘Holi’ first, named after India’s famous festival of colours. Made up of Don Julio tequila infused ginger, Cacai Vida mezcal, white chocolate, fresh lime and cinnamon syrup, the result was a creamy, sugary take on a margarita – still deliciously sour and beautified with edible flowers on top. Next I sampled the ‘Herbalist’ (Tanqueray gin, Absenteroux, herbal liqueur, vanilla syrup, cucumber, coriander, rose and lemonade) which was, unfortunately, disappointing. Much too tangy and salty, the only flavour that came through from the listed ingredients was the rose, while the overall taste was acidic – like drinking a shot of apple cider vinegar diluted in a glass of soda water. I also tried ‘The Saint’ (St. George Terroir gin, St. germain elderflower, Benedictine, maple syrup, fresh lemon and Maple bitters) which came in a little wooden glass and was sweet, clean-tasting and pleasingly, exactly what it said on the tin.
While the cocktails are the main draw here, to come and not sample the bar snacks would be a mistake. ‘Snack’ is underselling the offering; generously sized tapas is more accurate – and much as with the cocktails, the theme is creating an Indian take on a more typical western dish. We tried the masala fried cod with hand cut fries which was a tasty deviation from the classic fish and chips. The fish was lightly fried, the spices unusual but not overly hot, while the chips were of the skinniest variety, lending what could be a heavy dish a more delicate quality. We also went for a plate of the stuffed portobello mushrooms which were filled with feta cheese and mild green chilli – providing a kick – and sweetened with apricot. Meanwhile a dash of beetroot purée decorated the plate smartly.
By the time we left, another table was occupied by a group enjoying cocktails and low conversation in the intimate surroundings, yet with capacity to seat 25, the room still felt sparse. ‘Vijay’ translates as ‘victory’, but it’s a little early to predict whether Vijay’s will rise victorious in Fitzrovia’s bar scene. On its side, though, is the fact its offering is a far cry from cheap and cheerful Simmons close by, or the other neighbourhood watering holes, many of which are fuss-free pubs. Vijay’s is offering something a little more high end for the after-work crowd.
|What||Vijay's Bar & Lounge, Fitzrovia review|
|Where||Lokhandwala, 93 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, Lonodn, W1T 4PY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Goodge Street (underground)|
|Price||£12 per cocktail|
|Website||Click here for more information|