Tucked away amongst South Bank’s restaurants and dessert spots is a place with the air of the illicit, where forbidden mischief is encouraged and house made hooch is actually something you want to order. We’re talking about Next Door Bar & Kitchen, whose gangster glamour interior, classy drinks and tasty nibbles make it one of our favourite hangouts – for any time of day.
Leather booths and dim lighting set the scene for the 1920s elegance of this speakeasy inspired eatery. Though weekend breakfasts are a glam affair, with dishes like floral French toast, salted caramel waffles and pulled lamb bubble and squeak, it’s the lunchtime fare that could convince even a mob boss to take the afternoon off and indulge in a long lunch.
Start with oysters of the day prepared at the whim of the chef or the infamous two cheese polenta bites and gangster chicken wings – we’ve been known to stop in just for them. For the main event, crispy fish tacos and deliciously juicy burgers stacked with beef brisket or duck breast confit pork belly are just the kind of food you want to get hands on with after a busy morning.
And then there’s the drinks. Although the venue is inspired by the prohibition era, there’s no such ban at this bar. Be transported to a smoky New York basement bar with hooch like the rose wine, lychee, strawberry and lime Giggle Water or the Gangsters, Punks ‘n’ Cabaret cocktail, made on Bulleit bourbon, tequila and Chartreuse shaken with peach jam and lime juice. See why you need to take the afternoon off?
You could finish your day and head in for dinner, of course. You’ll still find the polenta bites and chicken wings on the menu, along with some hefty meals like twice cooked beef brisket and saffron linguine. And you can stay and drink as much moonshine as you like. But who doesn’t want an excuse to leave the office behind for a few hours?
You’ll find Next Door Kitchen & Bar on Little Stanley Street in South Bank, open for lunch and dinner seven days and breakfast on weekends.
Words by Rebecca Grady