Opal Bar - not so precious
If you have ever worked in the Charing Cross area, chances are that at some time or another you will have found yourself in the place now called the Opal Bar. It is a popular after work haunt – or to put it more precisely; the stumble-in post-pub stomping ground for people who probably should be heading home, but prefer to hang out for a bit longer. Within stagger distance of a train station.
Bars and clubs within the catchment area of mainline stations are never great, are they? There is always something slightly sicky lurking about in the shadows. The jury is out on whether this is because they have to accommodate the dregs of the evening or if, because of their location, they just don’t have to try. I’ll go with a bit of both in the case of the Opal Bar.
A daily happy hour from 5-8pm promising half price drinks and food pulls in the crowds, but also smacks of a hard sell. Not my choice of venue, I was there to meet a long lost friend, so I decided to make the most of what became its one redeeming feature – good wine at bargain booze prices. It felt rude not to.
The staff in the upstairs “Bar Blanca” were not only too busy to even pretend to have customer services skills, we also had to clear our table of glasses and drinking dregs so we could sit down. Somehow in the process of this, I got my feet soaked in a puddle of what I hoped was water, but the tell tale feeling of velcro told me that my favourite shoes were now soiled with something altogether stickier.
Table tidy, we made ourselves “at home” in the white patent leather booth, seats smudged with something I preferred not to dwell on. We soon found out that the booths were irritatingly impractical for groups of more than three people. Getting in and out meant everyone having to get up and let’s be honest, when there is drinking involved, this is a frequent event.
The music was not helping the ambience either. Relentlessly piped in, like liquid poo over our table, was utterly soulless pop from a compilation that, if there is any justice in the world, should be titled Now that’s what I call shit 2011. Happily, with interesting conversation, the people I was with managed to stem my flow of what might have slid into an epic bitch fest. For a while anyway.
On the ceiling were two half glitter balls, doing their thing. In limbo about whether the bar was trying to be a half assed disco or if their decorator was just cheap, I decided it was time to explore the rest of this empire of eeek.
Descending into the pitch black cavern below so aptly named “Club Noir”, I had to stop on the stairs to let my eyes adjust.
Once in the club, I was forced to take back my disco heckle. Down here in the dungeons, no expense was spared on the glitterball account, a humongous ball of bling adorning the front of the empty DJ booth.
Although it wasn’t busy, I couldn’t help but question the wisdom of positioning the main dance floor on the landing right in front of the stair case leading out of the club. Saying that, with the bounty of hidey holes and niches around, I doubt dancing in this place would be priority. Come late at night.
Intentional or not, by now a theme of décor for drunks transpired, with black booths indicating that I was now in “Club Noir” rather than in “Bar Blanca”. I couldn’t fault its logic. It has no doubt helped seriously sloshed people get their bearings before.
By now sure that I was not missing out on any nuggets of nice, I soon planned my escape. Emerging into the drizzle outside was curiously cleansing after spending just a touch too long in the viscous void called the Opal Bar.
Bar Opal, Hungerford House, Victoria Embankment, London, WC2N 6PA, Telephone: 020 7389 9933, http://www.opal-bar.co.uk, Opening Times: Monday 12 till mid-night, Tuesday 12 till 1.00am, Wednesday 12 till 2.00am, Thursday-Saturday 12 till 03.00am, Sunday 12 till 9.00pm.