The outside of Tart

Friday nights are not about cocktail drinking  in my view. Cocktails are the companion of good conversation and good company – on a cranked up Friday night in London the former is normally impossible. Tonight however proved to be a fairly mellow end of the week celebration, and conversation and cocktails were happily mingled.

I’d been making enquiries about favourite drink ingredients and flavours of my drinking partner to concoct something new for her upcoming birthday picnic. This surprising, if not nauseating, list followed:

  • Tequila
  • Rose
  • Condensed milk
  • Amaretto
  • Salt
  • Cucumber
  • Gin
  • Angostura
  • Violet
  • Caramel
  • Almond

I’m damned if I know what to do with that but it reminded me that we were a stone’s throw from a bar that I’d been meaning to test out. Not just because it looked inviting or because I’d met the owner last year and promised to come along but because the menu featured drinks not too far removed from the list above. In the name of adventure alone, this had to be tested out.

So to Tart Bar we went. The interior starts off light and airy with chandeliers and pale walls, then increases the colour and pattern until you reach a chocolate-coloured den at the rear (booked for a private function). It’s all very pretty and nice, too nice perhaps. With a name like Tart, and with some of the imagery used on the walls and menus, I think a slightly more sordid atmosphere would be fitting – though perhaps their clientele of late-20s women would disagree with me.

Menu cover

Luckily, we were sitting in the plain end of the bar opposite a splendid painting influenced by freak show banner art called ‘Electra’ (I didn’t take a picture unfortunately). I love banner art so this was a genuine treat. 

The USP of Tart is their dessert-inspired list of drinks called Tartinis (£7). There is a ‘classics’ list (£6) but this comes off as being a little out of touch, though I was pleased to see a White Lady on there. I usually would have stuck to this list as the Tartinis sounded  incredibly sweet but being a Friday night I felt like cutting loose and ordered a Gingerbread (Bourbon, ginger liqueur, Butterscotch and Pain de Epices with a ginger crumble rim). After some consultation with the busy but helpful bartender on whether she preferred creamy, fruity or refreshing drinks my DP ordered a Bakewell Tart (Amaretto, Advocaat, double cream and raspberry puree with a crumble rim).

Front bar at Tart

My drink tasted strongly of Pain de Epices and could have stood a dash more Bourbon but overall was interesting and not too sweet. And I liked the crumble rim, even when it got a little soggy as crumble will. The Bakewell Tart was a drink of two halves, tasting of pureed glace cherries on top and most of the advertised ingredients below – in my opinion, even with a better amalgamation of ingredients, this is a drink that should be reserved for the third circle of hell. My creamy-drink loving friend wasn’t so severe but even she found it too much. After that experience, I’m guessing she’ll stick to the drinks the barman designates as ‘refreshing’ the next time she’s asked.

But in spite of the flaws, I think I’d still come back again out of sheer curiosity. Not one but two of the Tartinis contain cheese, another meringue, and another custard. How can I resist?

Ambience: 6/10
Drinks: 5.5/10
Service: 7/10
Value: 6/10


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