Ask for Janice is no longer a new comer to Farringdon, having opened its doors across the street from Smithfield Meat Market in 2014. However, where many have moved on, this bar and restaurant continues to be packed with locals and workers around the clock. I live round the corner and have always counted it amongst the best in the area for gin and tonics and small plates of great food, so I was interested to hear they that had converted their basement into a residency that’s currently hosting Soho’s popular Graphic Bar.
Graphic Bar x Ask For Janice: The Lowdown
The basement at Ask For Janice has always been a well-known local secret, hidden behind a fake brick wall it was a reliable spot for when the crowds frequented the upstairs. That said, perhaps it was slightly too secret, and the hidden door has gone leaving a much more inviting, intimate venue. It no longer feels like a basement but more a small bar in itself with its own mixologist and a calm, comfortable atmosphere. This seems like a great decision and the prospect of further residencies here is likely to keep us coming back for more.
Graphic Bar x Ask For Janice: The Drinks
So what of the first residents? It’s great the team have paired up with like-minded gin experts. The gin has always been the hallmark of Ask for Janice and so it was great to be able to take this a step further introducing even more niche and new gins to the menu. Speaking of the menu, I actually asked to keep ours – it’s less of a menu and more of a colourfully designed cocktail playbook.
This was a good sign of things to come. We tried Last Salutation (Rittenhouse rye whisky, coffee, pineapple, vanilla, cocchi and salt) as well as a Gin Sour (East LDN gin, lemon, sugar, butters and egg white). They were £17 for the two, and thankfully the menu includes guidance on the glass for the picky gin drinkers. I have to say they were both amazing; not good, not fine, but genuinely brilliant cocktails. I can be honest that I’ve been put off in the past by cocktails that can often be just overpriced juice drinks, but the team at Graphic are here to show what cocktails should be; intricate, exciting flavours, interesting ingredients and perfectly balanced to make you want more. I genuinely wanted to keep going and going and, being walking distance away, I probably could have but it was also a Wednesday and my boss will be reading this.
Graphic Bar x Ask For Janice: The Food
The food was by the Ask For Janice kitchen, so we knew what to expect; fresh, delicious small plates that are ideal for sharing. We had a spiced lamb shoulder with summer beans and feta, as well as a chargrilled courgettes dish with goat’s curd. The dishes are small and you wouldn’t have a full dinner here (they’re also reasonably pricey), but for me these well thought out plates are a perfect accompaniment to the sophisticated cocktails, and are clearly designed to be a part of the evening rather than the main show.
Graphic Bar x Ask For Janice: The Verdict
Ask For Janice is evolving and has got off to a great start with this Graphic residency. It’s rightly installed as a favourite for many Farringdon locals, and I like many others can’t wait to see what’s next.