Les Trois Garcons was a real eye-opener when it was launched in 2000. Complete with stuffed animals wearing tiaras, that Brick Lane pub was not just the first truly cool opening in the East End – it also set a new London-wide standard for decadent, high camp decor. A couple of years later, along came its nearby spin-off, Loungelover, which remains one of the coolest-looking bars in town.
This is venture number 3, but where the ‘Annexe’ comes from remains a mystery. It’s located on a site near Broadcasting House which formerly housed RK Stanleys (which helps to explain the multi-coloured designs down one wall which are intriguingly painted-over versions of the Stanley’s logo).
Wow! You can’t say they haven’t ‘gone for it’ on the design, which is a fine example of “maximalism”. Armed with a notebook, one could fill reams with details of the light fittings (each one different), the chairs (many in clear plastic, some shaped like ladies’ shoes) and the surface effects (from floral wall-paper to silvered leather to shiny metallic panels). You would then need a few pages more for such gimmicks as the illuminated spinning model roundabout. Unlike the Trois GarÃ§ons, there’s so much going on that, after a while, the décor all blurs into an iridescent mush, and the wackiness that seemed so remarkable in the East End can seem a touch more predictable and contrived Up West. It’s still pretty damn cool, though.
Ah yes, the food. Pricey and in dinky portions, it is rather incidental but it doesn’t actually detract from the experience. Wine prices, however, are punishing: the short list starts at over £20 and mounts quickly towards £100. Refreshing Alsatian beers, at £3.75 a pop, are arguably a rather better deal.