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Fitzrovia’s Finest: Vijay’s Lounge & Bar

SEEN assembled with other drinkers in the glorious Lokhandwala – a restaurant typical of the way in which Fitzrovia is rapidly reinventing itself. It was a useful rendezvous, as Vijay’s Lounge & Bar is associated with it. Where the restaurant is spacious and airy with a hint of the mysterious, Vijay’s, accessed through a door to the left of Lokhandwala, is tucked away like a best-kept secret. You go up a flight of stairs half-expecting a spy hole to be opened and the requirement for a password.

The bar gets its name from the Victorian scandal of Lady Charlotte’s affair with the Indian outlaw Vijay in the Lokhandwala district of Mumbai. Predictably, such a transgressive affair across the boundaries of class and race did not end happily, but Lady Charlotte returned to London and now the street upon which the restaurant and Vijay’s sits bears her name.

Vijay’s is cosy and intimate, dominated by a colourful twinking bar. It has seating for 25 and an outdoor terrace. The feeling is very much that of someone’s front room, from which the inhabitants stepped but mere moments ago. There’s a cupboard with books and a case. A bust on the mantelpiece wears an old school tie. The cocktails resonate with the ambience of this place and the ill-starred romance that inspired it: High quality champagnes and whiskies, premium spirits, floral syrups and Indian spices – rose, lavender, fennel, star anise and coriander come together in startling ways…

SEEN, eschewing the sweet for the dry, asked the waiter’s advice. He recommended a ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’, which was indeed smoky, dry and had layers of flavour in it from the mixture of premium whiskies. SEEN got comfortable very quickly with this. One of my drinking companions ordered the rather splendid ‘Like a Bird’, which came in a bird-shaped vessel in a birdcage. Such theatrical gestures went down very well with the assembled audience. Soon the birdcages were everywhere and Instagram nearly crashed. I tried a ‘Butterfly Effect’ next, which was sweeter and lighter in flavour but went down very easily indeed, the vodka and Dom Bendictine nicely balancing the Blu Butterfly Tea Syrup and Coriander. It’s a great place to meet up with a few friends or, dare I say it, have an assignation in the manner of Lady Charlotte and the raffish Vijay. I think they would have approved.

Vijay’s Lounge & Bar
93 Charlotte Street