A lively bar and club set adjacent to Embankment tube station, this party venue is ideal for a big night out and a stumble home.
Next to Embankment station and overlooking the river lies Opal, a hard-to-miss bar and basement club that’s usually spilling punters out onto the pavement if the sun is shining. An impressive building with firm yet friendly bouncers, the ground floor opens out into a polished, narrow bar – The Blanco Bar – which boasts comfortable, plush white booths and just enough space for a few groups to stand and chat over a drink or two.
Past the cloakroom and down a mirrored staircase you’ll find the basement club, aka Club Noir, with split levels for seating areas (this time all black booths, naturally) as well as an area where live bands play crowd-pleasing tracks during the week. The seating is pleasantly private in that it’s set off from the dance floor but not so much that you can’t enjoy the music near your table. With a large bar and plenty of room to dance, the club gets busy and, as you’d expect, is at its most popular on Friday and Saturday nights, though the Thursday band nights draw in the after work crowd and keep them going until late.
Though there’s ample seating, this isn’t exactly a place to go for a quiet drink. The clientele come to party and will either have a swift few after work or start the night here and expect to stay until closing time. The touches of glitz and glamour add to that up-market Soho feel with none of the pretentious baggage that often comes with it; those who haven’t come straight from the office will dress to impress, but any attitude is left at the door.
The aim is to get everyone moving and so the music here is as commercial as the décor, with chart hits, the odd club classic and enough cheese to get party goers singing along and trying to dance. That said, in the Blanco Bar you won’t find it so noisy that you can’t carry a conversation, which is refreshing for a central London venue. The live bands that play later on in the week do great covers of floor fillers and the DJ makes sure everyone’s on their feet by the end of the night.
As you’d expect for a venue that knows how to party, the food is simple, crowd-pleasing and easy to share. From decent pizzas that start at £7.50 for a margarita, to a great plate of nachos, there are plenty of nibbles to keep you going as well as sharers that will suit groups if you can bag yourself a booth. The rustic platter (£10) is the meaty option with cute mini cheeseburgers, breaded chicken, mini steak pies, tasty Cumberland sausages and huge potato wedges, which are not quite crispy enough but go perfectly with the mix of dips. The veggie option is all you’d need to soak up the wine with pizza, garlic mushrooms, samosas, wedges and spring rolls, which aren’t quite as flavoursome as those from your local Chinese, but fill you up just the same. Gourmet sandwiches and burgers make a more substantial meal and overall the menu is well priced – particularly if you go for the happy hour offers.
The bar here isn’t flash or full of flair, but the drinks arrive quickly and at a price that won’t dent your wallet too much. The wine list is fairly extensive, but they’ve chosen well with pleasingly crisp Italian white wines from £4.60 a glass and plenty of rose and red options should you fancy a Merlot or Zinfandel. The cocktails are far more exciting though, with sharable punches which arrive with sparkle to your table (literally) starting at £40 and cocktail jugs of anything from the Woo Woo classic to the fruit-filled Raspberry Beret, all at £19. Some of the concoctions have an added Opal twist, but all in all, you’ll find familiar favourites and plenty of fruity options, which are probably more tailored to the girls. Shooters make a regular appearance amongst those work crowds and start at £5, reaching £7 for a Jagerbomb.
The Last Word
Whether it becomes your regular post-work haunt or you stumble across it as you spill out of Embankment looking for a night out, Opal bar delivers a fun, friendly setting with just enough frills to make you feel well looked after.