From its never-ending bar to its futuristic décor, the Zander Bar is never anything less than a thoroughly enjoyable assault of the senses.
Located in the heart of Westminster and a five-minute walk from Victoria station, the Zander Bar is part of the Bank Restaurant, itself part of an imposing network of eateries, flats and hotels halfway down Buckingham Gate. A revolving door leads through the open-front exterior into a dimly-lit anteroom, with the restaurant straight ahead and the bar to the right hand side. Two huge flowerpots are offset by wall-length mirrors, framed pictures and thick pillars which divide the space nicely.
With a low, recessed ceiling, concealed lighting and padded, futuristic chairs and sofas, the Zander Bar is as good a place as any for post-office gatherings, garbled conversations and a cocktail or three from one of the longest bars in the UK. Truly a sight to behold, the eponymous bar extends the length of the room, with every conceivable kind of spirit on display – room to manoeuvre is limited, however, as much of the space directly in front of it is given up for two private rooms which are usually assigned to groups with the foresight to book in advance. The downstairs space, a short walk from the initial welcome area and cloakroom, is almost as large as the first floor, yet oddly it houses the toilets and very little else.
Loud, brash and generally convivial, the Zander cannot be faulted for sheer post-work atmosphere – the waistcoated staff respond well to rush hour, and drink orders are dispatched courteously and stylishly, while the well-to-do clientèle make merry in the natural enclaves that form around the pillars throughout the room. The frenetic choice of music is tailored to the occasion, with guests DJs on Friday nights, and the pervading ambience is one of unabashed hedonism.
Although food is usually left to the Bank Restaurant just next door, the Zander Bar offers selected bar snacks as well, and in keeping with the rest of the menu they are gloriously excessive. The mini-basket of fish and chips is a meal in itself, and the jumbo sausage roll is more satisfying than a jumbo sausage roll has any right to be – all for fairly reasonable prices (£5-£7), and an undoubtedly alluring gateway to the delights of the restaurant itself.
Using every last spirit in its considerable arsenal, the Zander does a mean line in cocktails, some of which are available at heavily discounted rates (£4.25) from 4pm onwards in the much-vaunted ‘Cocktail Club’ series – favourites include Tommy's margarita, espresso martini and the tequizzle. Champagne cocktails are equally popular, if a little pricier – although a bellini comes at a more-than-reasonable £8.50, the same price as a regular glass of champagne. Wines are in abundant supply too – although the house red is a rather disappointing South African shiraz (£4.75 a glass) so by all means splash out or the Chilean cabernet sauvignon (£5.95) – whilst Bitburger on draught, as well as several bottled brands (£4), round out the beer list.
The Last Word
Despite a respectable location and demure exterior, the Zander Bar is brash, bold and busy – a good place to see out the working week in Westminster.