Pennethorne's At Somerset House

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Pennethorne's Cafe Bar | The Dapper Chapper

Curious as ever to discover new places to dine, The Dapper Chapper got in contact with Somerset House with a request to review Tom’s Kitchen, a lively and stylish bar which resonates at the back of the iconic building. Knowing us as they did, their suggestion was as follows: “A Dapper Chapper is far more suited to Pennethorne’s Café Bar, so you should go there instead.”

How right they were. The Pennethorne’s Café Bar opened in November on the New Wing at Somerset House, the renowned arts and cultural centre in the heart of London.

It was named after Sir James Pennethorne, a 19th century English architect who designed the Somerset House New Wing, and we bet he would be proud. The technical description for the venues theme is ‘19th century chic re-imagined’, but it really is a place where Dapper Chappers can go after work, or for lunch to unwind in a rather impressive environment.

Pennethorne’s Cafe Bar succeeds in combining the arts, culture, decadence and style of the early 19th century with the unique vibe of 21st century London.  Think dandies with a dash of modern, edgy attitude, humour and personality (a Dapper Chapper). Smart navy walls bisected with sharp, clean archways, with accents of Victoriana in the angular glass lampshades and glinting gold picture frames.

We were looked after by an attentive and knowledgeable waiter who represented a team that clearly knew their stuff. Each order came with insight into the where the products are sourced, matching suggestions and generally just good service. There was also mild hysteria when we realised the logo on the London Sock Co. socks almost matched the penny farthing logo for the Café. Sorry, let’s get back on track…

We of course started with cocktails, which actually start at just £5 – excellent news for London imbibers. The cocktail collection, created by head mixologist, Paolo, includes:

  • Basil & Mint Martini – vodka, elderflower, basil, mint
  • Aperol Lemon Drop – Aperol, lemon, orange
  • The Old Fashioned Cherry – bourbon, maraschino, pomegranate molasses, bitters
  • Chilled Venetian – Martini extra dry, orange bitters, prosecco, tonic
  • Sole Mio – Martini Rosso, orange & grapefruit soda, grapefruit bitters
  • The One Vodkatini – vodka, Martini Rosso, lemon and orange zests
  • Branca Mule – fernet branca, lime, somerset pomona, ginger beer

And the star of the show… Chilli Martini – sloe gin, chilli, apple, rose, lemon.

The artisan bar stocks a selection of quality craft beers from London’s renowned CRATE brewery and now hosts regular Craft Beer Workshops with CRATE brewery. The wine collection features signature wines from England, Italy and France, plus the best of the rest of the world.

They also tell us a night out with friends doesn’t always mean a stiff drink.  The sober-social revolution is making an appearance in London, and Pennethorne’s Cafe Bar at Somerset House is giving this emerging movement a nod with some delicious mocktails:

  • Spring Garden – mint, elderflower, cucumber, lime
  • Forest Harvest – raspberry, cranberry, lemon
  • Pepper Rose – grapefruit juice, lemon, rose syrup, pepper

We were also told that the Pennethorne’s is quickly becoming the discerning choice for stylish Londoners looking to enjoy an equally stylish tipple and bite to eat – so eat we did. The menu inspired by Sir James Pennethorne’s travels across Europe during the Grand Tour, bringing classic flavours from the Grand Tour travels to France and Italy to life with a modern English twist. The menu is designed by head chef Richard Robinson, and features all-day dining small plates.

With Somerset House located in the heart of theatreland, Pennethorne’s it is the perfect pre-show destination for quick bites and light dinners before the evening performance or after a lazy matinee. The pre-theatre menu is the perfect starting performance featuring a sample of the best dishes brought together to create a sharing board to please all taste buds.

It’s a bit of a hidden gem on the New Wing but with Stylish Victorian-chic interiors and grand Somerset House windows to watch London pass by, it’s truly worth a visit, chaps.


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