273 West End Lane, NW6 1QS
With the opening of a ’70s party pad’ bar in West Hampstead, ’70s fanatic Michelle Godding, can’t wait to immerse herself within the groovy patterned walls of the Urban Leisure Group’s latest offering ‘Bobby Fitzpatrick’.
I arrive in West Hampstead on a typical cold and dark January evening with high expectations for the opening of Bobby Fitzpatrick. The bar’s namesake Bobby is painted as a colourful character embodying everything that I love about the 70s. As I make my way up West End Lane, I wonder how well this is going to be done without verging on parody. It’s not a long walk from the tube station and after a few minutes I find myself in front of the glass facade of the bar. Retro lettered white blocks spell out ‘B O B B Y F I T Z P A T R I C K’.
The bar is split into three sections, ‘the kitchen’, ‘the living room’ and ‘the lounge’. Upon entering, it seems that I am in ‘the kitchen’. I am surrounded by chic maritime blue Formica tables and chairs and wooden panelled walls covered with signed, framed photos of famous folk from that era. So far, so good! It’s already busy in ‘the kitchen’, so when the manager tells me that there is also a bar downstairs, I jump at the chance to have a look, curious to see the rest of the place.
Vintage patterned wallpaper lines the stairwell, setting the scene as I delve underground to the music of James Brown. To the left of me there is ‘the living room’ and to the right ‘the lounge’. As a first impression, I am truly astounded at the effort gone into sourcing all of the authentic items to fill the space. From the furnishings and shag pile carpet, right down to the knick knacks. Even the toilets have been sprinkled with that magical seventies touch; blue tiled walls, retro sinks, old paperbacks in each cubicle and an old school hand dryer.
Initially sitting near the fireplace at a high bar table, scanning the drinks menu I order a Blake’s Swizzle and a Michelle My Belle. The latter for obvious reasons. I have a nice selection; one chilli spiced rum cocktail with triple sec, lime and vanilla and one tequila based cocktail with papaya, apricot and lime. Well balanced and incredibly delicious, with the ability to transport your mind to the chilled out sparkling shores of the Caribbean. Edgar Winter’s White Trash plays in the background, followed by other greats such as Elton John, Suzi Quatro and J J Cale. I feel like I’m playing my own records, except for the times when a couple of dodgy 80s numbers boom out of the vintage wooden speakers.
Remembering that I am going to order some food as well, I decide to move to a bigger table. In ‘the lounge’ there are cane chairs, psychedelic tile topped tables and exotic plants hanging from the walls; I’m in retro heaven! Noticing a suspended rattan chair, I immediately make my way over. Retro board games, old paperbacks and photo albums fill the shelving unit next to me. Looking through these albums, I’m reminded of my mother’s old albums, filled with yellow tinted photos of 1970s Ghana.
The nostalgic American style food menu is wonderfully simple, which suits me fine, considering the extensive drinks menu. The menu is split into several sections; snacks, pizzas, Bobby Burger, dips, sides and desserts. I order from each, except the Bobby Burger (a signature hamburger with a Red Leicester middle) and a dessert. Tonight the cocktails are my dessert. Rum is the speciality here, so I ask for a Daiquiri which is incorporated with the ‘rum of the month’. This month it’s Caribbean Plantation 3 stars. Refreshing and delicate, it goes superbly with the breaded garlic mushrooms (accompanied by hot sauce) and the cheese & tomato pizza. More adventurous eaters can go for pizzas topped with pineapple & ham, lamb doner & garlic sauce, full English or sesame prawn, Chinese greens & chili.
Besides the enticing selection of cocktails, the drinks menu also caters for a wider audience. There are various shorts, virgin cocktails, sparkling wines, beers and ciders. However, the seventies Bond vibe (think Roger Moore era) has drawn me in and want to try more cocktails. Sanford University is next as the mention of a cherry cola reduction caught my eye. The cocktail arrives, looking quite colourless. I pour the reduction over the ice, bitters, lime and Absolute vodka which brings it alive. The reduction is in a cute little glass bottle, enabling you to control how sweet the drink is. I add half to the mixture and drink the other half neat to see how strong the reduction is. It’s delicious!
By the end of the night, I’ve made myself feel quite at home in this cosy corner of ‘the lounge’. I really don’t want to have to make the long cold journey back east. Reluctantly I pull myself up from the suspended rattan chair and gather my belongings. Just as I’m about to leave, Status Quo‘s ‘Something ’bout you baby I like’ plays out of the speakers. I’ve had a few cocktails and I just feel like dancing. Sparing the staff and other customers from an embarrassing karaoke session, I simply just sit and listen.
I’m very much taken by the classiness in which the theme has been explored, leaving truly inspired. An absolute must for all 70s lovers.