Friday, 7 October 2011

[Lounge - Cigar Lounge] Short Take - No Fire without Smoke: Garden Room at The Lanesborough, Knightsbridge

A change of plans. A change of circumstances. A change of minds..

All and one of the same had led to my first, quite anticipated visit to the Garden Room at The Lanesborough, all perhaps to the changing of pace, but certainly not changing the extortionate cost of the evening. Suffice it to say, there would be no change left by the end of the evening. 

In my quest to scout out potential lounging areas, areas where time could be whiled away in serenity, and to further build on my utter freshness to the world of cigars, I have particularly been seeking out cigar lounges. I came across the Garden Room on a Bar Review website, showing an expansive space, with regal furniture and seemingly overgrown garden, all contained within the warm glowing enclave of a refined room. To say that I was sold was needlessly stating the most obvious of facts - my wallet had gone awol at the thought. When it came time to actually visit the establishment for the first time however, the notion of peace and enjoyable serenity was cruelly vanquished. It was a Tuesday evening, relatively early, and the garden room was packed to the brim. The lights were bright, and the clientelle was predominantly young, money-laden and fashionable. Damn whippersnappers, they'd certainly cramp on my octogenarian wishes for peace. I was not confident. Not that a quick perusal of the menu helped matters.

Fast forward to this Friday evening, where former plans to enjoy an evening out at a bar were thwarted by secretive marital discussions and and reservations amongst the assembled company and baggage, and rather than sully the serenity of my now established refuge, I suggested a swift skip to the nearby Lanesborough to try something new. After having just eaten at CUT, we'd be coy to say we couldn't afford it, what with our ridiculous dinner cost. My bank account yelped. 

On arrival I was pleasantly surprised; what was formerly filled with bustling, young, socialites, was now sparsely littered with a few older individuals. Still probably money-laden. I have a knack for stating the obvious, I was eminently the only one making grandiose connection between the area, pricing and image of the area and the sort of people it invariably attracts. The lighting was also subdued, and calm, low-key. After a quick advising from the Italian waiting staff member and some good suggestions, the cigar and drink were chosen, and we resumed back at our seats. 

Montecristo Edmundo
Cigar arrived, lit, and sampled. Rather light in body but also exquisitely smooth and a lovely drag. Conversation ran slow, and slightly constrained, and I continued with my cigar, which with every draw drew further admiration. Usually preferring character, body and impact to perhaps the subtler nuance, perhaps generally as I am rather unobservant, I was astonished by the mellifluous calm of this cigar. Each draw was delicate, a smooth, slight cocoa and coffee smoky [REALLY?!] infusion, which strangely remained subdued. The time whiled away, and stubbornly the cigar refused to get "hot", peppery or spicy, as many do. This despite my incessant smoking - I grow impatient of the time sans cigar - the cigar defiantly remained silken.

Flor de Caña 18yo Rum
This is not to discount the liquid partner to the cigar as well. Another rum this time, it was a delightful example, flamboyant in its aroma, a promising partner to the cigar smoking sweet nothings. Lovely, fruity, it generated a harmony with the cigar, its smoothness providing a backdrop for a creamy amalgamation. Despite reaching to the point of being difficult to be held by my stubby fingers, the cigar maintained its serene path. This may reserve should be just as stubborn and let the cigar burn my fingers, but the rather disarming cocktail sampled earlier in the evening along with the rum, and my persistent replacing of oxygen with delectable fumes of cocoa in my bloodstream had conspired to leave me rather debilitated. The time had whiled away, and the closing stages of the evening were approaching.

Whilst not a completely laid back experience, not by any fault of the location, but rather of the aforementioned company, I was left enlightened. Excellent service by a "paesan", a stunning combination of a silken smoke and a characterful partner in drink, and a subdued and refined ambience. Maybe in my disgust of the youth of today, a haze had clouded what I seen? Ageing is vicious. Though, the question will always remain of if this experience can be repeated quite so dependably, seeing as this being the evening of the end of a week, was rather against the grain. Garnering a minor stroke at the bill, we paid, and bid adieu to a pleasurable experience. The relative calm of the Garden Room rather drastically being replaced by an Operatic Singer in disguise as a taxi driver.

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