I’ve always wanted to be in a Sorority – if only so I can use the abbreviation LILAS (love ya like a sister!) non-ironically. And obviously for the shared wardrobe with all those other girls. Topshop/Zara/Mango new collection errrr – check! Alas living in England this fantasy has struggled to become a reality…until last Wednesday.
For months myself and the girlfriends of my boyfriend’s mates (are you keeping up?), had been trying to organise an evening away from the men in our life. (don’t you love that; that when you boyfriend’s, mates all have girlfriends you instantly get a new group of gal pals…well assuming they’re as lovely as the ones I know). Anyway we had finally settled on a Wednesday in March and then an email dropped into my inbox from Steam & Rye inviting all the
single ladies along to join them for their new Sorority night which will be happening every Wednesday…and with 50% off off the bill, how could we refuse. So last week 4 of us girlfriends headed over to the City to become the new Delta Nu! (Beeeend & Snap!)
We arrived at 6.30pm and, after a quick chat with the gorgeous Josephine who welcomed me at the door(she’s one of the models on my books), I suddenly realised I’d been here before but back when it was Prism, a weird seemingly posh bar and restaurant that was totally white throughout and had some very reserved diners being serenaded by a violin. It was a shock that this was the same place. Gone was the white interior and crisp table settings and in it’s place is New York City’s Grand Central Station – sort of. Huge American flags adorn the walls, the bar sits in front of a large clock and there are roped off tables and VIP booths awaiting the evening’s patrons. It sounds like a great set up but to me it felt a bit pop-up. I was expecting something more along the lines of Bob Bob Ricard in luxury but it’s far from having a button to press for champagne.
Steam & Rye has sort of sold itself as a decadent, Great Gatsby esque bar but it was too themed and fell almost on the side of tacky? This thought only increased when a table next to us apparently ordered a dinosaur head to their table – and by dinosaur head I mean sharing cocktail. The waiters donned safari costumes, the sparklers and party poppers came out and the music was cracked up as an accompanying ‘dinosaur’ tune blasted out over the bar. It was a bit TGI Fridays…hmmm.
That’s not to say it was terrible, it’s just I’d be expecting something different, something a bit classier and less, well, silly. But moving on from the decor and Dinosaur interlude and back to our evening, us girls started with working our way through the extensive cocktail menu.
Now this more than made up for any previous silliness – there are so many different cocktail combinations to choose from that initially I couldn’t make up my mind but our fantastic waitress helpfully recommended me a Mississippi Lullaby – which looked like this…
Wow. In a word.
The passionfruit on top was actually flaming and we were all very impressed – cue lots of picture taking. A couple of the other girls then went for the 5 dollar shake which had taken our fancy before we even arrived. The promise of a cocktail served with a Fab ice lolly on top was all we could talk about pre-meet. But alas the drink arrived with no Fab ice lolly but a choc ice in it’s place. Not the worst substitute I have to say and coupled with the Oreos and marshmallows I think all was forgiven, at least I thought is was still pretty Fab! (waa waa waaaaa!)
I then moved onto a Monica Lewinsky which contained all sorts of Rum & Amaretto goodness, lots of whipped cream, more Oreos and of course a good ‘ole American Flag.
For food we opted for a sharing platter of ribs, onion rings, chicken wings…basically your standard snacky bar food bits. The ribs were unbelievably good however the rest was a tad uninteresting (read: deep fried and beige)…I guess it does work a treat though for soaking up the alcohol from all those crazy cocktails. We also ordered a side of mac ‘n’ cheese which was ok and some chips which I loved but the portion was rather small.
We finished off the evening with some more cocktails – mainly the Freedom Martini’s which had been the favourite at our table, definitely have one if you go!! – and a portion of the caramel ice cream, delicious. We felt pretty satisfied.
Accompanying the food, cocktails and chats that night, there was a live band performing. They seemed to be doing indie covers along the lines of Kaiser Chiefs and Mumford and Sons…not really in keeping with the theme of the bar but live music is quite a nice addition to a night and not something overly common in the city. Although it was rather loud – jeez I sound old – I think loudness is the aim of the game here at Steam & Rye, it seems they’re much keener to be a loud, late night bar for after work city types which probably means it will be very popular.
But not just with the city folk – Kelly Brook has fronted this venture (she teamed up with Nick House, the guy responsible for Mahiki, Whisky Mist & Bodo Schloss) and it seems as a result it does get a few celeb guests. We had 2/5 of The Saturday’s (Una & Vanessa) sat behind us when we went and days later Pixie Lott also launched her latest album here.
I don’t know what the celebs think of the place but I definitely arrived with the wrong idea of Steam & Rye. I think the venue and the themed-ness of the place verges on far too novelty at times and the main room feels a bit souless, like it can’t decide between being a bar or a club. The cocktails are great, our waitress was amazing but it just doesn’t deliver on the glamour and opulence it’s been trying to sell.
However now I know what to expect from Steam & Rye I would go back, especially for Sorority Wednesday’s as it’s such a great deal. I’d also possibly go later in the week if I was up for a livelier night, you can imagine this place does get pretty wild as things progress. This place is fun, not decadent, Great Gatsby, glamorous fun, but funny, novelty, stupid fun and I can’t really fault it on that. Plus as silly as the dinosaur interlude was…I still kinda wanted to order one.