How to put boring bar snacks behind you

By Sarah Sharples

- Last updated on GMT

Fancy: smoked ham hock and black pudding croquettes from Dickie's Bar. Photo: Instagram @dickies_bar
Fancy: smoked ham hock and black pudding croquettes from Dickie's Bar. Photo: Instagram @dickies_bar
Twists on traditional classics, plus some out-there experimentation, is making bar food exciting again.

Bar snacks can conjure up images of a stale packet of nuts, a sad looking plate of hot chips or even an overcooked scotch egg. It’s one of the last sectors to improve on food offerings, according to the owner of Sea Chips, Dan Pawson, who produces salmon skin crisps. 

But there’s been some innovation slowly creeping into the sector, with new openings bringing in a much needed boost for bar food. Here we highlight the venues and vendors ringing the changes.

Dickie’s Bar

Richard Corrigan, chef of Corrigan’s Mayfair, also has Dickie’s, with twists on classics being the name of the game in this bar.

Bar bites include smoked ham hock and black pudding croquette, Cornish crab on brioche and an oyster croque monsieur.

Even the nibbles have a touch of class with goat’s cheese popcorn and roots down vegetable crisps.

Londrino

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This Portuguese powerhouse opened with a bang last year and its bar menu is certainly very different from what you’d expect to find in your standard boozer.

The 30-seater bar features vegetarian options like whey chips with smoked pimentao (a famous red pepper paste), and a baby gem with almonds and garlic emulsion.

For seafood, there is braised crispy kombu (or seaweed as it is commonly known) with shrimps and caramelised crab tarts with yoghurt and mushrooms.

Moving on to meat, punters can get their hands on grilled quail with toffee mayo and Portuguese sweet bread with lemon and iberico ham. These bar snacks are next level!

The Blue Posts

This is an 18th-century pub which was refurbished and reopened, with a restaurant in the basement. But what’s happening in the bar?

It’s from the team behind The Palomar and The Barbary and classic bar food has been taken up a notch.

The menu includes pork crackling with taramasalata and paprika, freshly cut Spanish salchichon (a form of sausage), a toastie with ogleshield (a washed rind cheese made with cow’s milk), onion and mustard, as well as mushroom pate and smoked almonds.

Taking a kids classic into the adult world, there is also anchovy soldiers - fingers of toast topped with anchovies.

Sabor Restaurant

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Ex Barrafina chef Nieves Barragan is in charge of Sabor - which opened this month - where tapas dominates the bar menu.

On the list are queso fresco (fresh cheese) on toast with black truffle, lardo with anchovies and olive oil and even the Spanish version of devilled egg, called huevo relleno.

There’s ox tongue carpaccio and tinned herpac sardines with fennel salad to wrap your lips around too. Snacking never seemed so fancy.

Pitt Cue

Initially launched as a food truck and now a restaurant, this barbecue joint also has a big bar where people can snack on changing offers.

Most recently, there was grilled sourdough and bone marrow, cod’s roe and turnip, as well as lambs heart.

It would have been easy to put some simple meats on as a snacking option, but Pitt Cue has taken its snacks menu much further.

Lyle’s

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This Shoreditch restaurant is branching out from it’s evening set menu into bar food. It launched a new bar menu this week, with around 10 to 12 smaller dishes that feature some lunchtime favourites, such as grilled mussels with cider butter and the smoked eel with seaweed and January King cabbage.

The restaurant is also serving snacks from the evening’s set menu such as the calçot (green onion), Stichelton cheese and wild leek flatbreads from the wood-fired oven and deep fried artichokes with cedrat lemon.

The menu is not only for snacking, but for those wanting to curate a full dinner at the bar from the dishes off the list, according to the restaurant.

Head chef James Lowe added: “We’ve been serving snacks and small plates to friends at the bar for a while now, and it brings a really nice dynamic to the restaurant. We felt it was the right time to open it up to everyone.”

Related topics: Menu Ideas

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