When Lise, of Bitten Bug Writes, got in touch about a spur-of-the-moment meal at The Drift Bar‘s sister restaurant, we just had to let you guys know about another little gem in the city. Perched right by the river and with views of the Monument to the fire of London, it’s a place I’ve walked past and longed to visit…
Nestled amongst the grim façades of London’s financial hub, the wide windows of The Folly are an oasis of twinkly gorgeousness and charm. Having first spotted it from the far less salubrious settings of the 381 bus, I was instantly seduced by the inviting décor (I react to fairy-lights the way most five-year-olds respond to Santa) and promised myself it wouldn’t be long before I was pushing open the heavy glass doors.
Thankfully, a graduation ceremony in Barbican provided us with a handy excuse. Less than a minute from Monument station and a short potter from London Bridge, The Folly is ready to be your Edenic escape from the big, bad world. Lit by soft, tear drop bulbs, candles, and the afore-squealed-over fairy-lights, the atmosphere is a sparkling union of relaxation and buzz. Tables tucked between tree bowers or cushioned hanging chairs make for cosy corners, while longer tables on the lower level provide the perfect space for larger parties. Sliding onto one of these purpley-plush benches and grinning at your companion through silver candlesticks and basil pots certainly makes you feel like one of the cool crowd, attendees of an elite summer garden party or university may ball.
We were greeted cheerfully and seated immediately. That said; it was a Monday night. After a quick chat with a regular in the ladies’ I was warned that come Thursday or Friday the place is heaving, and you find yourself engaged in an intense battle with the bankers to get hold of a seat for dinner. Booking advised.
The drinks menu offers a great range of innovative cocktails, and helpfully provides flavour wheels to help you match a drink to your particular tastes. Rather too helpfully, however, was the list of ‘skinny cocktails’, calorie count determinedly displayed. Now I don’t approve of calorie-counting on nights out, and when it comes to cocktails, ignorance is bliss. Bliss it certainly was though, as the waitress cheerfully reminded us (twice!) that it was Mojito-Monday, where their gorgeously-balanced cocktails (including a kumquat mojito and a lavender and strawberry concoction) are two for the price of one.
Delivered to your table, glowing like jewels in pretty glass jars, this is not an offer to be refused.
The food was an Asian-Italian-British fusion range, sourcing from local suppliers to create dishes like the slightly-alarming sounding “London sausages” (cue Sweeney Todd associations, anyone?). We decided against a starter of flatbread in the end; some of the options sounded interesting (particularly the borough market flatbread, with brindisa chorizo and piquillo peppers) but at nearly £10 it was too risky a choice. The diners around us had selfishly refrained from ordering it so we couldn’t see how much bang (or bread) you got for your buck.
Instead, we headed straight to the main courses, choosing the Crispy Duck Salad for me, while The Graduate opted for the Steak Sandwich. To test the full variety on offer, we also chose a Mac & Cheese side (hey, all in the name of research…)The food arrived quickly (again, a by-product of the Monday night lull I suspect) and was truly wonderful.
Served up to me in a gorgeous ceramic dish, my warm noodle salad came with succulently sweet red peppers and crunchy kale, and was altogether a fresh, filling and fabulous dinner. At £9.45 it was only a pound or two more than the same meal from somewhere like Noodle Nation, but without the greasy regret.
The duck was honestly perfect, crispy at the edges but succulent, not a trace of fat, and drizzled with a heady hoisin sauce far richer than what you’d find in your usual Chinese takeaway. My companion was pleased by the finely sliced Scottish beef on his ciabatta, but the waitress forgot to ask how he liked his meat (it came rare) and the £8.45 portion was reasonably small, without any accompanying chips or fries (or, as I like to call them, “the good bits”).
The side dish, though, was a triumph: made with salty bacon and tenderly cooked leeks, the macaroni swam in a delectable cheese sauce made with what tasted like 1000% cream. If the Folly is Eden, the Macaroni is surely the forbidden fruit; too sinfully tempting to resist.
We had a great night at The Folly. The scrummy food, beautiful cocktails and carefully-detailed décor make you feel like you’ve achieved the glittering lifestyle of the city-worker, without the matching price tag. Drake and Morgan have opened another bar, The Fable on Holborn Viaduct, and after my experience at the Folly, I am truly excited to see what these guys are serving up next.
The Folly Bar | 41 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0BT | 0845 468 0102