The Andaz London – a haven for many things and now a champagne & sushi experience.
If you’ve ever headed out of Liverpool Street Station and up the Bishopsgate escalators, chances are you’ve seen Rake’s Bar. On football days and weekends, the outside area on your right is packed with hordes of blokes clutching beers. You certainly wouldn’t think that it’s attached to a bar serving over 20 champagnes.
Still, it’s this kind of ‘anything goes’ attitude that suits Rake’s to a T – or, at least, an R. The dictionary definition of a rake (aside from a toothed garden tool) is “a man, especially a rich and fashionable one, who was thought to have low moral standards”. If you look up Rake’s on Instagram, however, you’ll find the more 2022 appropriate “no formality, no rules” – which is more welcoming to me, being female with a bank account burned by too many champagnes and a questionable fashion sense…
The setting for this casual, rule-free bar is the five-star Andaz hotel, which occupies a gloriously grand Victorian building. Rake’s is on the station side – fantastic for a quick pre or post journey drink, as most patrons have worked out – and is a lively space with three rooms and shared door with Miyako, the Andaz’s Japanese restaurant. What’s brought myself and L (a man; hopefully rich; somewhat fashionable) here is the champagne and sushi menu, a mashup hosted by both Miyako and The Parlour at Rake’s at The Andaz London.
My cursory thought as I step into the scarlet room plastered with old potion bottles and medieval crests is a) why is that mirror decorated with more mirrors? and b) surely champagne and sushi are two foodstuffs that are lauded because of their rules and formality?
There’s a formulaic elegance to sushi, and woe betide anyone who calls a sparkling wine a champagne if it’s not produced in a certain way in France. Anyway, I’m not going to complain. I like sushi. I love champagne. The concept, at least, has me sold.
The fizz list has 21 varieties and covers off all the big names (Moet, Ruinart, Laurent Perrier etc.), with a few vintages making an appearance, too. On the sushi side, you can order items individually from £3.50 for a single piece, or you can go for a platter like the Miyako special, which is nine nigiri, a maki and a uramaki roll, which comes in at £26.50. I’m more well versed in my champagne than my sushi, so we ask for a mix of everything. What arrives is a platter of sushi so large that (quelle horreur!) the champagne actually has to be taken off the table.
I won’t bore you by listing everything we tasted, but there are some highlights. The sea bass is tender, light and melts in the mouth. The tuna is of a similar excellence, as is the shrimp. I’ve always been wary of sushi that’s anything other than fridge temperature, but the tempura shrimp roll is just the right side of warm, with crisp crustacean wrapped in lightly vinegared rice. It’s promptly devoured by L and I, who determines that this is like scampi wrapped in seaweed (in a good way, of course). It all goes down a treat with the champagne, too, which is selected for us by a friendly bearded barman and poured with a flourish.
It’s not, I will admit, the most innovative of menus. However, what you get here is quality. Each piece of beautifully fresh fish is handmade to order by Miyako’s Head Chef, Kosei Sakamoto, who used to work down the road at Moshi Moshi.
It’s laidback, too – from the cobalt chaise we recline on to the funky music and crowds of (admittedly well-heeled) after-work drinkers. In fact, attempting to shove a slightly-too-large crab maki into my mouth – I’m abysmal with chopsticks – while swigging a glass of champers is, I reckon, the most relaxed way to enjoy them both. No rules, no formality. Just bloody good sushi and bloody good fizz.
To discover more, visit: hyattrestaurants.com
All imagery courtesy of The Andaz London.
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