Who said chain bars in The City have to be high on price and low on quality? Patch argues the point and makes a convincing case.
Situated on Carter Lane – a narrow street a short walk from St Paul's Cathedral – Patch is a modern basement cocktail bar. From the outside, it looks like any other generic City venue with a clean-looking frontage and a bouncer on the door. Once inside, although still notably contemporary, it has a less generic feel. And despite being part of a chain (along with Clause and Pause) it doesn’t suffer the usual chain bar trappings.
The venue is split across two floors. Upstairs has an airy feel with large windows and natural lighting, and is often hired out to private parties. Downstairs, the interior is based loosely on an LA apartment. You've got interesting wired seats and low and high chairs and sofas, character wallpaper and various segmented areas that you can sit privately in. The toilets are even impressive – each cubicle is massive.
This bar has a really relaxed feel, despite being within the confines of The City. Yes, you've got your suits, but it's actually more subtly corporate than many of the surrounding bars. And this is complemented by the friendly staff, who have a strong knowledge of the food and drink. Despite the recession, Patch has managed to stay reasonably busy during the post-work period on a Thursday and Friday night.
When it comes to chains, you naturally assume the food is going to be pre-processed and sub-standard. Impressively, this isn't the case at Patch. A reasonable amount of the menu is homemade and it’s all nicely presented.
There is a wide selection of good value specials (£5-£6) served daily at lunchtimes. These include everything from traditional fish and chips to more adventurous stir-fry dishes. Alongside this, you've got a selection of sandwiches (£6-£7), which include wraps, burgers, stacks and toasties with chunky chips. There are also sharing slates (£14.75-£18), small plates of mezze dishes (priced £4-£5) and bar snacks (£3).
The four sharing slates are excellent quality. Graze – the meat-free platter – is a good size to share between two people. It's beautifully presented on a black slate-like board. The falafel skewers aren't too oily and have a crunchy bite to them without being over fried. They perfectly complement the soft and mildly smoky baba ghanoush. The tortilla isn't too salty and the potatoes and onions are well cooked. The warm pita is heated so it’s soft and not too crunchy and goes really well with the homemade hummus, which is creamy, with just the right amount of tahini and garlic to give it a twist. The onion bhajis aren't too greasy, but could be criticised for being a little dry.
If you're looking for meat and fish additions to your meal, then the Bite sharing slate (£15.95) is a good option. Both the lamb koftas and meatballs have a good bite to them, but the texture is a little dry. The sausage and bacon skewers are flavoursome and have an unusual peppery glaze. The sharp-tasting honey mustard pot that comes with the slate goes really well with these.
Alternatively, Nibble (£16.95) is worth getting for the cold meats. The chorizo is distinctively smoky, but not too peppery and the prosciutto is flavoursome and slightly salty. The marinated olives have got a garlic bite to them but aren’t too vinegary.
Finally, the sushi selection (£4.75) from the small plates is a good choice. Impressively, the venue makes its own sushi. It tastes fresh and zesty with a sharp, but not too vinegary flavour. The rice could be criticised for being a little stodgy for a light fish dish, however.
When it comes to drinks, Patch really means business. There are 12 white, 12 red and three rose wines on offer. Prices start at £13.35 for a bottle of house white or red (£4.45 a glass) and go up to around £40 for more specialist wines. There are also eight Champagnes, three pinks and two magnums on the menu. Prices start at £6.60 for a 150ml glass of house Champagne, rising to £185 for a magnum of Veuve Clicquot Rose. If you're looking for a good quality, averagely priced white then the Spanish Marques de Riscal Rueda Blanco (£22.25) is an ideal choice. This intensely aromatic wine has a fresh, subtle flavour that goes with most meat and fish dishes on the menu.
Beer and ciders available include Asahi, Becks, Corona, Heineken, Peroni and Magners at £3.50-£4. The cocktails, however, are what make the bar stand out. There are more than 20 on the menu and they're sectioned into types, which include names such as Weird and Wonderful, Bramble Fruits and The Sweet Trolley. All are priced at £6.50. The Tokyo (sake, cucumber, wasabi, lime juice and sugar) may sound disgusting but in reality the fresh and zesty cucumber flavour perfectly complements the subtle undertone of the wasabi. The lime juice adds to the mix and the sprinkling of sugar ensures it's sweet enough. Beetlejuice is also worth trying, even if you hate beetroot. Somehow, gin, sweet vermouth, beetroot and blood orange work together to make a sweet-tasting drink with a strong consistency.
The Last Word
With homemade food and refreshing original cocktails, Patch is a welcome addition to the Square Mile.