Named after an actor who is generally perceived to be one of the coolest screen presences of all time, McQueen the bar is somewhat of a misnomer. It strives to be stylish, alright, but isn’t swagger something you just effortlessly have? It’s not really je ne sais quoi if you’re trying desperately to procure the quoi in question.
I went to McQueen last night on an "Asians in London" meet-up, and the entire ground floor was rented out to us, which was a nice gesture of hospitality. I thought such a busy event was a little under-staffed, considering Asians and non-Asians came pouring in in their droves, and at one point, I asked if I could have a drink to a boy at the til and he told me ‘I don’t serve’. Why do you stand behind the bar then mate?
I wasn’t completely sold on the décor, which consisted of lots of weird and wacky statues and ornaments, but the individual pieces didn’t fit with each other to give a cohesive image of the bar, and certainly not very Steve McQueenish. This wall hanging below is a bit creepy, truth be told:
I also wasn’t too impressed with the close positioning of the sofas at the centre of the room, which meant that it was practically impossible not to bump into someone if you wanted to head towards the bar.
My Litmus test for whether or not I consider a London bar overpriced or not is the price of that first round (assuming the round is for two people). If it falls below £10, then I’m a fan. Hence why I adore so many Wetherspoons so.
If that first round exceeds £10, that’s not the end of the world, but the bar has to have a certain élan to atone for their above-median prices of drinks. And that isn’t an excessively taxing imposition; I’ve had excellent impressions of several bars in London that charge a pretty penny for their drinks, ranging from The Escapologist to Reverend JW Simpson, because their cocktails were just on point.
After all, I don’t mind paying over the odds if the ambience and quality of service matches the price. McQueen sadly didn’t have that; the atmosphere was fairly stale and consisted purely of the noise from conversations of the people at the event. Would it have killed the managers to play some pop music?
In terms of riding on the laurels of its Shoreditch location and not delivering on the rest, it’s definitely not the most guilty (that would be, hands down, Worship Street Whistling Shop, one of the worst bars in London). But McQueen was nothing earth-shattering, and certainly nothing the man it was named after would hurry to write home about.
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