Kwānt in Mayfair: Enchanting like Aladdin’s cave
An alley off the always-busy Regent Street, Heddon Street looks like a local avenue. Tables pour out from restaurants on both sides, with Gordon Ramsay’s brasserie catching visitors’ eyes first. Down the road, Moroccan cuisine has found its home in Momo. Below that, hidden and secret like the genie’s lamp, is Kwānt. The bar (its name is pronounced “Quaint”), one of the few in London to be in this year’s 50 Best list, is at basement level, reached through a small stone corridor. The doors open on a warm and lush environment, fitting the definition of its name – “unusual or old-fashioned”.
The first solo venture of ex-American Bar head Erik Lorincz, the place offers both delicate and powerful concoctions, to go with snacks from the restaurant upstairs. Inspired by his travels and cultural experiences, Lorincz brims with ideas and flavours which are mixed and perfected by the in-house team. We begin the tasting with an elaborate tipple, simply garnished with floregano. The Monkey Punch is a slow drink, with silky texture and a nice cherry kick. The milk is moleculised and added as a very filtered solution.
For a sour option, we couldn’t be more in favour of the Paloma twist La Capilla. The black diamond salt on the rim of the glass creates an immediate savoury contrast with the Don Julio Blanco Tequila and yuzu agave nectar that form its base. A pink grapefruit soda from Greece pleasantly finishes the whole with citrus notes.
Alongside the many pages of the drinks menu there is a tasty selection of food. The seasonal hummus is traditional and flavoursome. But it is the grilled octopus that most seduces our mouths: perfectly crispy on the outside, the tender meat is impeccably married to the saffron aïoli.
We didn’t leave it to chance to understand why the Coffee Negroni is one of the most requested cocktails. The Tanqueray No Ten gin powerfully blends with the Italian vermouth Cocchi Torino, enveloped in the aroma of Brazilian coffee, which is sifted and aeropressed to be added at the height of its flavour.
Nuttier sips come from the Michael and Peter. Michter’s Bourbon whiskey is paired with chestnut and splashes of Angostura bitters. The pecan nut adds the final touch. A soft wafer made from the remains of the chestnut reduction tops the ice.
Instead of the usual pre-recorded playlist, Kwānt offers live piano music (of different genres) to be enjoyed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, leaving the rest of the week for quiet evenings. It is almost impossible to believe such an intimate atmosphere is hidden within buzzy central London. Like Aladdin’s cave, Kwānt elegantly enchants.
★★★★★Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Kwānt, 23-25 Heddon Street London W1B 4BH, contact them via their Facebook page here.