Mr Simon — Udine, Italy
Speakeasies are all the rage these days, in part, we suspect, because of the frisson of the unexpected, especially the space itself once you manage to find it.
The owners behind Mr Simon have been assiduous in cloaking its precise location, admitting only to the fact that it’s set ‘inside a newly-opened restaurant in a very famous mall of the town in Udine’. A telephone reservation is required on a vintage white phone in the restaurant, following which one goes through the toilets, enters an employees-only broom closet, ring a bell, and the cement wall swings open.
The dimly lit interiors by Visual Display are a treat – a short concrete tunnel opens up into a deep blue nook furnished like the living room of the titular Mr Simon, a fictional fin de siècle botanist and alchemist, with blue velvet sofa, marble bar top, period prints, back-lit illustrated sconces, and vintage glass lamps.
Owner Simone Maion also tends the bar, shaking up cocktails from a stock of Italian vermouths, Japanese whiskeys and boubons – the lethal mix of choice being the Dietrich, a floozy concoction of candyfloss, London Dry Gin, tonka beans, dried orange and tonic water. If you’re abstaining for Lent, the small finger food menu comprises fresh oysters, wagyu and tartare burgers.