Perfectly themed bunker The Bletchley launches in Chelsea
Fittingly enough, information on The Bletchley is hard to find. There’s a couple of short briefs floating around, some social media shots, and a lot of hype. Despite nobody knowing what it really is, sessions are still booked out a month in advance. Inspired by the code crackers of the Second World War, this themed bar is, pardon the pun, something of an enigma.
We’re going to leave it that way. There’s a novelty bordering on the absurd here that is best experienced with fresh eyes and no assumptions. What we will tell you, is that at some point during your time there, you’ll find yourself with two totally unique drinks, made especially for you based on certain parameters. For us, a liking for floral scents and Italy left us with a pair of thoroughly unique cocktails. The first, a curious mixture of lavender, rose and ginger rum is all subtlety and hints of flavour. The carefullest of hands has been put in charge of those floral concentrates, and what reads like an upmarket hand soap actually tastes delicious. Even the ginger is kept in careful balance.
The other drink goes completely and utterly the other way. Their Italian inspiration turns out to be a hearty kick of basil, and we really do mean a kick. It’s a bold one, traversing that line between sweet and savoury precariously. At times, it feels like a glass of the freshest pesto diluted in vodka, there’s even some umami notes in there. Like most other savoury cocktails, it tastes so much better than it sounds.
Which is the same for the entire bar really. The premise seems more than a little pretentious and gimmicky, but there’s an irreverent mood here that undercuts all that with ease. The waitress maintains a stiff upper lip, British as they come, but there’s a twinkle in her eyes as she plays the character. Unlike some experiences (I’m looking at you, tasting menus paired with poetry) it doesn’t make you feel like a cultureless heathen for having a bit of a giggle. If anything, it encourages you to smile, to just enjoy yourself. The perfectly themed bunker echoes with laughter from every table, and there’s something slightly magical about the entire thing.
It all adds up to an experience that feels like so much more than the product of an ad agency’s all night Shoreditch bender. So many places like this are basically built for Instagram and hype, and when you pierce their flawless veneers you find there’s nothing but hot air and wallet-draining emptiness underneath. Here, the charm is as strong as the drinks and in a city all too often polarised between gimmicky themes and generic bars, it’s nice to actually have a night that’s memorable for all the right reasons.
To book a table at The Bletchley, 459 King’s Road London SW10 0LR, call 0044 203 4881 678 for groups of 10 or more or visit here.