It is grey, it is January. The holiday season is over, a long 5 weeks loom until this month will be over. Blue Monday is around the corner, and the jolly of the party season has evaporated. Lo & behold, Maskelyne & Cooke. The bar proving that the magic and sparkle has not all faded, as they offer an impressive cocktail menu, classic dishes and best of all, a magic show.
Maskelyne & Cooke, on the lower ground floor of Le Méridien Piccadilly, takes its name from 2 famed magicians, John Nevil Maskelyne and George Cooke, who performed their magic show in the West End for over 30 years. The bar has dark furnishings, with subtle references to the era of Maskelyne & Cooke’s show including Art Deco lamps and original framed advertising posters. The sophisticated mystique of Maskelyne & Cooke makes it the very inviting place to be refreshed from their menus; they have an impressive, magic-inspired cocktail menu coupled with classic dishes to enjoy.
Beginning our experience, we sank back in to the plush sofas whilst sipping on cocktails, and then we were impressed with the tricks of the in-house magician. In a time when what’s real and true is often undefined, it feels good to suspend one’s disbelief in an entirely innocent pursuit.
Accompanying the entertainment and cocktails, there is a short but well-executed menu of favourites such as prawn cocktail, beef Wellington or baked Camembert. We began with the smoked salmon, which came as 2 enticing edible parcels encasing a bundle of tender prawns below. The finishing cucumber ribbons added a refreshing element to the fish.
The next delectable dish was similar to the salmon in its shape, but it hailed from the land instead of the sea. The beef Wellington consisted of buttery, soft pastry wrapped around rare beef fillet. A simple accompanying hollandaise sauce lent the dish a further buttery and acidic taste, making this a prize example of how to do this classic dish.
Meanwhile, there was another star of the show. This time in liquid form. My friend selected a ‘One Shilling’ cocktail, named after the admission fee for Maskelyne & Cooke’s show and complete with its own spectacle. The ‘One Shilling’ arrived centred in a bell jar, with a white fog collecting in the bottom of the glass. The bartender lifted the bell jar, for the fog to dissipate over our table. Very theatrical.
I opted for the Sharp and Flats cocktail, which borrows part of its name from Maskelyne’s book. The book is still revered as an excellent handbook for card tricks for magicians today. This concoction served in a dramatically tall martini glass aims to make just as an impression as its namesake. The delicate balance of sweet and sour makes it hard to forget.
Back to the food. Presented in a long cocktail glass, the prawn cocktail had succulent prawns and crab meat layered over crisp lettuce. Up next were the chicken sliders. Three mini chicken fillets were perched on top of brioche buns, complete with tomato, lettuce and mayo. The mini burgers, like the other dishes, were simple yet stylish. The staff at Maskelyne & Cooke know there’s no need to over-complicate their food menu, when time-favoured classics make the perfect accompaniment for the many wonders of the bar, be that the spectacle of their cocktails, or their awe-inspiring illusions.
Maskelyne & Cooke
Maskelyne & Cooke