Walking into The Trading House is like walking into Narnia. Outside, it’s nothing special, just an ordinary street in the City of London in between Bank and St Paul’s. But push open the door and step out of the cold and you’re greeted by dark wood, large chandeliers and some freakily cool taxidermy.
My sister and I visited on a Wednesday evening but on seeing the crowds of people laughing, joking and drinking by the bar I had to check it wasn’t a Friday. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a bar with this much midweek atmosphere…and I party a lot so that’s saying something.
The Trading House has only been open for five months, so I had to question if part of the reason for it’s success was it’s newness. Everyone likes to try something that’s a novelty, right? But then I discovered that this bar is run by Living Ventures, who also own the fabulous Alchemist bars in Manchester and Leeds and Red Door in Liverpool. Living Ventures has been in business since 1993. If there’s a formula for the perfect night out, these guys know what it is. And they create beautiful bars – check out this pic of The Trading House from the mezzanine level, which can be hired out for private parties and functions:
This is the mezzanine level, which has it’s own beautiful bar:
My sister and I have high standards – this is Live Like a VIP after all – so although we were impressed by the crowd and atmosphere, we were intrigued to see what the food and drink offerings would be. We started with the cocktail menu and I was pleased to say it’s a good length and it’s easy to read, which is important if you’d rather talk to your mates or a date than study a dusty old cocktail menu. (Surely, we’ve all been in that situation where the cocktail menu is long and confusing so you pick one at random and it’s hideous?)
Anyway, hideous is the last adjective I could use to describe The Trading House’s cocktails. More appropriate words are decadence’, ‘sumptuous’, ‘smooth’, ‘fresh’ and perhaps also ‘strong’. We visited during National Chocolate Week, so there was a special cocktail on the menu called Chocolate Rose. Check these out:
Be warned – these are so tasty you could finish them in 3 long sips. I advise pacing yourself by sipping on them as you nibble on some bar snacks. We tried a Scotch Egg, which I’m pleased to report was cooked fresh with a lovely runny egg encased in everything that tastes good about sausages. There’s a side of piccalilli to avoid too much of a meat-rush.
Baked camembert is the perfect texture of a smooth, runny centre with a firm white crust. If you need something to distract your tastebuds from the cocktail so you sip it slower, this is ideal.
In between courses, we tried other cocktails. I mean, it’s easy to get lucky and pick one nice drink but what are the rest on the menu like? The Gin and Blueberry Crush is summer in a glass. If you suffer from SAD (feeling depressed when the Winter nights come in) this could be the tonic. It’s fresh but it’s not overly sweet. Delicious!
Now I must mention the Martinis, as there is a very special reason why you should order a Martini at The Trading House – James Bond. Spectre is out this month and Daniel Craig himself was filming in the area. If you look at the car chase through London scene carefully you will see The Trading House. I’m not a shaken not stirred girl, I’m more of a Strawberry and Mint martini lady with the mint crisply cutting through the fresh tangy strawberry. My sister went for an Earl Grey and Lavender Martini, which oozed sophistication. Smelling it made me think I was in the posh food hall at Fortnum & Mason, but I still preferred the strawberry one.
After all this liquid refreshment, we had worked up an appetite. And what better way to solve it than steak and frites. Trust me, this tasted as good as it looked.
Fish and chips was the perfect portion of soft fish in a light crispy batter. Thick chips would have been too much with a fish of this size so I found the fries complimented it well.
However, the real star of the show is The Trading House’s signature hanging kebabs. You can’t find these at any other venue in the world. Just like black cod is the dish to have at Nobu and crab doughnuts are made famous by The Chiltern Firehouse, hanging kebabs are what you need to order if you visit The Trading House.
They come to the table on a skewer with a stand. On top of the stand is a pot of warm, melted garlic butter which is poured over the top of the meat at the table making it flavoursome and succulent.
Make sure you save some room for dessert as I can vouch for the taste combination and spectacle that is the strawberry and marshmallow kebab. Strawberries and marshmallows and chocolate are my idea of the perfect dessert and when the chocolate is melted over the top and there’s a side of ice cream it’s one non-stop pud-gasm (pudding and orgasm).
Go with mates, go with a date and indulge your inner Bond or Moneypenny. I guarantee everyone will find at least one thing they love on the food and the drinks menu, but do make sure you try a hanging kebab, or you’ll regret it.
For more information on location, menus etc, see The Trading House website.