We had come to the Christmas fair by Tower Bridge in search of festive cheer, German sausages and mulled wine. But – faced with an ice-cold Tuesday evening – the stalls had closed earlier than advertised and of our three quests we were only able to complete the one for mulled wine (which did come in very cute, boot-shaped cups).
Forced to look for sustenance elsewhere and too cold to wonder around aimlessly gazing in restaurant windows, we tumbled into the nearest eaterie. This turned out to be the Most Cafe Bar underneath the bridge. It was a tiny place, occupied by a large beer bar and a few tables poked around the sides. I say beer bar as that's clearly the speciality – the menu offers around 30 different varieties, spanning from an English stout to a chili beer from Arizona. Understandably, we had to try the latter. It was a normal enough looking bottle of lager, with an assuming little green chili floating inside. Taste-wise, the chili had clearly won the battle over the lager hands down – the drink tasted like some kind of accompaniment to nachos or fajitas. It wasn't overly spicy, but it definitely tasted like it should be “green”. (Does anyone else ever think foods taste of a particular colour?). Incidentally, it also didn't taste very nice and we left most of the bottle. We also sampled a cherry beer from the ever-wonderful Sam Smiths brewery, which reminded me of boiled cherry-flavoured sweets (in a good way). In comparison, my glass of house red seemed pretty dull in comparison – a fact I was secretly glad of.
The menu features some snacks (eg mezze platter, nachos), as well as robust-sounding mains from mussles to steaks. Tempted by the blue-cheese mash, I asked for a rare rib eye (11.95). The mash was indeed pretty good, as were the glazed carrots. But the steak was well done and fatty. My friend went for the scallops with the cauliflower pure (12.95) from the short specials list. She said it was nice but rather stingy portion-wise. The biggest let-down though were the olives we'd ordered to munch on before the food arrived. Despite two reminders they were served after the main courses. A small square bowl of green and black olives (nice, but looking and tasting like they'd come from a jar), an identical bowl of indifferent olive oil with a squirt of balsamic vinegar, and a third with some slices of a baguette. Nothing short of extortion at 4.50. I was tempted to send it back, but my friend needed the bread to supplement her main course.
It was a nice evening, and I might be tempted to come back and try more beers, but next time I'll eat elsewhere.
Most Cafe Bar; Horrace Jones Vault, 206-208 Tower Bridge Road, SE1 2UP; Tel. 020 74036030; Tube: Tower Hill or London Bridge; www.mostcafebar.co.uk
PS After some googling, I discover that in fact the cafe is owned by a Russian lady, with the cafe's name intended as a pun since "most" is also the Russian word for "bridge". If that's the case, then it's a great shame that the only Russian beer on offer is the now readily available Baltika lager.