There has been a resurgence in burgers in recent years, and as a result, American diners are now popping up in London. Originally dismissed as fast food, American cuisine is now finding favour with foodies. Following the success of their first Chelsea branch, the team behind Honky Tonk opened their second branch by Clapham Common last autumn.
Located moments from Clapham Common tube station, with alfresco seating for the warmer months, Honky Tonk is an American-inspired diner, with exposed brick, plush leather seating and vintage-style artwork, giving it a very New York feel. Although most of the seating is at a regular level, unfortunately our party of five were placed at a high table with bar stools, which wasn’t as comfortable as we would have liked. The first thing that struck us about the restaurant was the noise. Honky Tonk prides itself on its vintage playlist and live music, but the volume could have been just a little lower. We were dining from around 7-8pm ish on a Saturday and could barely hear the person beside us talking. Admittedly, the DJ and musician were good, but it was still too loud. Our party was a mix of 20 and 30somethings and all left in agreement that the volume had lessened our enjoyable experience of the venue somewhat.
Noise and seating aside, everything else about the venue for a positive experience. Our waitress was very attentive and speedy and we gave her a good tip. All anticipating the main meal would be pretty filling, we decided to share a plate of Smashing Nachos (tortilla chips topped with smoked applewood, red Leicester and cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream and tomato salsa), which was swiftly demolished. Not too greasy, the nachos’ good flavour was down to the evident freshness of the ingredients. For our mains, most of our party opted for the Pulled Pork Sandwich (Slow roasted shoulder of outdoor reared pork smothered in barbecue sauce and apple slaw in an onion bun with a side of rosemary fries). My friends said the pork was cooked well, tasted good and was filling. As I’m a pescatarian, I chose the Halloumi Burger (Roasted aubergine, peppers, flat mushroom, lettuce, tomato, homemade burger sauce, grilled halloumi cheese and guacamole) which was really tasty. The halloumi was cooked perfectly so wasn’t too chewy and the burger wasn’t too overloaded so it was possible to actually eat it without making a mess (like some other burgers I have eaten!).
Accompanying our meal we tried some drinks from the short, but sweet cocktail list. The Over Proof Zombie (Triple rum with pineapple and passion fruit) was pretty strong, but fruity and zesty. I also tried the more refreshing USA Elderflower Martini (Hanger vodka with mint with elderflower liqueur) which was really good. The venue is renowned for its milkshakes, which I usually love, but we were strictly drinking alcohol on the night in question as it was a celebration so I didn’t get to sample.
Billed as a bar/restaurant, this is probably not the venue to come to if you want a relaxing meal. While the food is admittedly good and filling, the energetic ambiance means it’s near impossible to have a decent conversation. For those looking for a night out, there’s a fun atmosphere and is open until 2am on weekends so a good place to pop into for a cocktail or two. The food was enjoyable so I’m considering returning, but maybe earlier in the day or a weeknight to see if it’s a bit quieter.
- Honky Tonk, 16a Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AB. Nearest tube: Clapham Common. For booking and menus, visit the Honky Tonk website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
Vintage has never been bigger and with the release of The Great Gatsby movie last year, it appears the roaring ’20s have been… well roaring again. There is now a host of Art Deco and Speakeasy-themed bars in London as entrepreneurs catch on to the soaring popularity of drinkers wishing they were in another time.
Taking the 1920s theme a step further is The Candlelight Club, a touring pop-up nightclub featuring live music, cocktails, dancing and overall ambiance from yesteryear. I had wanted to get tickets for some time, but finally got round to booking them when I was tasked with organising a hen party recently. The Candlelight Club takes place on sporadic dates in various secret London locations – with them only being revealed a few days before the event, so you need to keep an eye on the website for dates.
A group of nine of us booked our £20 tickets quite far in advance and were able to take advantage of the early bird deal. In addition to your entry, there are options to dine or have a table for an extra cost. As expected the dress code was 1920s so lots of fringing, pleats, spaghetti straps, feather boas, long pearls and Mary Jane shoes. Although hen parties – such as our group – are welcome, try to blend in with the theme so no bright pink sashes or inflatable genitalia! We bought our bride a ‘bride to be’ rosette badge which was the same colour as her dress which was a subtle and simple. The venues of The Candlelight Club tend to be different and all the time, and on the night in question we attended, was a stunning building built in the 1920s in West London lit by candlelight.
In addition to the Twenties theme, The Candlelight Club also has a further theme each night – ours was the Excelsior club, a grander version of the usual club with sweeping staircases, waiters in full suits and a grand venue. Leading the entertainment was Champagne Charlie and his Bubbly Boys with dancing by the Bee Knees. We arrived about an hour after opening and missed out on any unreserved tables, but managed to get a few chairs for our group. It was rather quieter than expected at first before the live music started and with many people eating, which left guests soaking in the atmosphere, having costume envy and sampling the vintage-themed cocktails or bubbly. I particularly liked the bubbly being served in coupé champagne glasses, which nestle in your hand a lot easier than regular champagne flutes.
The atmosphere really changed once Champagne Charlie came on stage with his band. His mix of cheeky humour and singing soon got the crowd going. He also came over to our group and teased the bride with some risqué jokes. We were also treated to several performances by the very glamorous Bee Knees dancers. When the band weren’t performing, there was a vintage DJ spinning tracks so you could attempt the Charleston. In between shimmying, we could be found at the bar which was staffed by very dapper and friendly mixologists and barmen.
I can highly recommend Candlelight Club for a unique night out. The entertainment was brilliant and the venue was totally stunning. It was a refreshing change to my usual weekends to step back into the 1920s for the evening.
- The Candlelight Club takes place on various dates in various secret locations. Tickets highly recommended to be booked in advance. Check out the Candlelight Club website for dates and tickets.
For a guide to other 1920s bars and venues in London, click here.
Or if you fancy a trip to the 1950s instead, check out Metro Girl’s review of the Jive Party at the Rivoli Ballroom.
Our British summer is shorter than we would like to be, but we can always guarantee the biggest music acts and DJs in the world will be drawn towards London for a series of open-air gigs and festivals. Here’s a one-stop guide to what’s on and where to get tickets. However, be aware that many will sell out in advance so I would recommend getting your tickets asap.
- 29 – 30 June : Hard Rock Calling
Bruce Springsteen, Alabama Shakes, Kasabian, Klaxons, Paul Wellers and The Black Crowes are among the acts rocking this year’s Hard Rock Calling, which has moved to Queen Elizabeth Park. Tickets start from £51.75. Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford, E20 2ST. Nearest tube: Stratford. For more information, visit the Hard Rock Calling website.
- 5 – 14 July: British Summer Time @ Hyde Park
A festival of music, comedy and theatre at Hyde Park. Includes concerts from Bon Jovi, Bush, Eliza Doolittle, Sir Elton John, Jake Bugg, Jennifer Lopez, JLS, Kaiser Chiefs, Lionel Richie, Paul Young, Stooshe, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, The Saturdays and The Vaccines, among others. Tickets for main stage concerts range from £35 to £95. Hyde Park, W2 2UH. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge or Marble Arch. For more information and tickets, visit the British Summer Time website.
- 6 July : Carnaby Sound
One day free music festival in Soho’s Carnaby Street. Featuring live music from artists and bands in a wide range on genres. Also includes food stalls, store promotions and activities, complimentary drinks. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby Street website.
- 9 – 14 July : Kew the Music
Six day festival features big names including Paul Weller, Blondie, Leona Lewis and Jools Holland performing at outdoor picnic concerts against the backdrop of the Victorian Temperate House at Kew Gardens. Tickets start from £35.50. Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Tube: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.
- 11 – 21 July : Summer Series at Somerset House
The open-air concerts in the courtyard of Somerset House returns again in July. Acts include Lianne La Havas, Tom Odell, Jessie Ware, Goldfrapp and Bassment Jaxx. Tickets: £27.50 (not including booking fees). Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest tube: Temple or Holborn. For more information, visit the Somerset House website.
- 12 – 14 July : Wireless Festival
Wireless has moved from its previous site in Hyde Park to Queen Elizabeth Park. Acts over the three days include Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Emeli Sande, Rita Ora and Calvin Harris. Although some tickets are sold out, there are some still available. Tickets start from £75 (not including fees). Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford, E20 2ST. Nearest tube: Stratford. For more information, visit the Yahoo! Wireless Festival website.