I love a bar with a backstory, and Hoxley & Porter‘s history is really quite colourful. The bar/restaurant’s website alludes to a wealthy English businessman, making his millions in the Victorian era. During his most recent entrepreneurial venture (building a train line from Cape Town to Cairo), a rare jewel was discovered amongst the construction rubble. Mysteriously, and very shortly after this discovery, both Hoxley and the diamond disappeared without a trace, never to be seen again…
With such a tale to set the scene, your experience at this 19th-century colonial explorer’s sanctum is heightened, and it becomes the kind of place that you thank your lucky stars you have discovered.
Entry is down a long, teak-pannelled, train carriage-esque walkway, and opens onto a bar furnished with sumptuous velvet upholstery, potted jungle palms, accents of filigree gold leaf and low vintage lighting. The walls are diamond-patterned and papered, the staff are suited and booted in period uniforms, and it really is like stepping back to the age of steam.
The long restaurant at the front resembles a perfectly preserved First Class dining carriage, and the dining experience delivers “timeless tastes of home, enriched and enlivened by splashes of culinary colour from Europe, the Orient and beyond”. You’ll find culinary delights such as pork belly with bubble and squeak, truffle macaroni, and “Hoxley’s pie of the day”. Or stop by on a Sunday for a well-priced, fine traditional roast (~£15).
But what really makes this place stand out far and above the other restaurant chains and average bars of Upper Street, are the cocktails. Reasonably priced, at £8.50, these intoxicating liquors come from all corners of the globe, and will excited the parched palates of the weariest of travellers. Many of the ingredients are made in-house, and all of the liquid concoctions have a point of difference – as conveyed in the perfectly pitched menu:
T.T. SAZERAC – It began with cognac, followed by rye, now rum steps up to the palate. With flavour profiles from both sides of the globe this deep and dark darling will leave you smiling.
GINTILITY – A twist on an all thyme classic, made with homemade spiced lime liquor this gin tipple will quench without complicating.
CARIBBEAN INCEPTION – If we had the gusto we’d describe this as the thinking man’s banana daiquiri… nuff said.
I tip my cap to Hoxley & Porter, for they have created a timeless venue that’s a wonder to behold, where you’ll want to stay all night to truly lose yourself in the story. And I wholeheartedly suggest you do.
Hoxley & Porter
153 Upper Street, Islington, London, N1 1RA
Reservations: 020 7226 1375 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com