68 and Boston in Soho
Any bar moving into 5 Greek Street had its work cut out. Once the home of the much-loved Green Carnation, this beautiful venue has been a Soho staple for years. Following the undeniable decline of the Oscar Wilde-inspired bar, the venue looked ripe for a new team to take over. So imagine the excitement when industry big shots Eric Yu, Luca Cordiglieri and Martin Malley were confirmed to be taking charge.
They’ve since transformed it into the excellent 68 and Boston, whose wine bar has already been garnering serious interest. Every single bottle there comes at the same rate, seeking to drive its visitors into trying new things and not getting hung up on prices. So far it’s working a treat, and the idea is drawing praise from across the industry. There’s more to the venue than just the wine bar though: slip upstairs and you’ll discover a gorgeously moody “cocktail den”.
This is where 68 and Boston get it so very right. The entire feel of the bar is one of sophisticated relaxation, a gentleman’s club without the sleaze and the cigars. It’s the kind of place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of Soho and find a strange sort of peace, away from it all. Not that the atmosphere is quiet, it was buzzing from the moment we arrived, but there’s a sense of intimacy here that most venues of this size fail to capture. It’s easy to sink into one of the comfy chairs, get a few drinks in and get lost in good conversation, and ultimately that’s what a good bar is all about.
The cocktails are a bit more of a mixed bag. Squid ink martinis and cardamon-infused liquors sound wild but in actuality they play out as rather safe offerings: good, clean, crisp flavours, enhanced with swirls of lemon that lace your nostrils with citrus on every sip. Solid drinks no doubt, but not ones that thrill us. In a market as absurdly competitive as London, you need to stand out, to be bold and thrilling. It’s what the wine bar downstairs does so well, and what is just a bit lacking here.
Let’s be clear, a little lack of imagination in the cocktail list isn’t nearly enough to write this place off. As an overall experience, it certainly delivered, it’s just not quite on the level of some of its more established neighbours. These are early days though, and you can’t really fault a bar for playing it safe so soon after opening. In time, hopefully we’ll see the shackles come off and the patently talented team behind 68 and Boston let their creativity run a little more freely. If they do, this place could become a Greek Street heavyweight.
★★★★★Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
To book a table at 68 and Boston, 4-5 Greek Street, Soho, London W1D 4DD, call 020 7287 3731 or visit here.