Goat, London

An historic Chelsea pub has been transformed into a new cocktail bar and restaurant

goat cocktail bar

A pub called The Goat has stood in Chelsea in London for over 350 years. Since 1725, it was known as The Goat in Boots, reportedly because signs outside coaching inns showed the swift Roman god Mercury in sandals with horn-like wings on his head. This name remained after it was rebuilt in 1887, later becoming a hang-out for the rich and fashionable. Last year, it was bought by a team who have transformed the building into a New York Italian-style restaurant and cocktail bar, including a hidden speakeasy. They also dropped the boots and call it simply Goat.

The new owners are Steve Manktelow, who spent 12 years at Ignite Group, the operator of London venues such as Boujis and Eclipse bars, and Tim Cunliffe, who was a general manager at Ignite. Steve’s wife Katia completes the team, bringing a background in events. They gutted the interior, paring back to raw original features, and restructured the building so that the upstairs space, formerly the separate 333 Club, was reconnected with the pub’s lower floors.

It has been designed by Sophie Finch of Finch Interiors, who has worked on other London bars such as The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town in Spitalfields, the 2&8 club at Morton’s in Mayfair and Adventure Bar in Clapham. She was briefed to create a “relaxed New York-style restaurant” but also to refer back to the unique history and architecture of the pub.

The ground floor is the restaurant, with a new open kitchen, headed by Italian chef Marco Muselli, formerly at Mirabelle and Malmaison. At the back, a full-height log wall creates a rustic look, contrasting with industrial metalwork, next to a log pile for the wood-fired oven. The menu includes cured deli-style meats and pizzas, with different toppings such as pig’s cheek, gravadlax and bresaola. There are also steaks, grilled fish and salads, with sides such as truffled polenta fries.

A few steps lead down to the “crypt” mezzanine dining area, with custom-made wallpaper and vintage chandeliers, which hosts a Sunday-morning kids club while parents enjoy brunch upstairs. A gilt-framed mirror transforms into a TV screen for presentations.

A staircase leads up to the 140-capacity bar on the first floor, formerly 333 Club, which has become a warm and stylish cocktail lounge lined with luxurious banquette seating and blue wall panelling. Brickwork and an old chimney have been exposed alongside the vintage-style wallpaper, while an original church pulpit has become the DJ booth. To help link the different spaces, a hole has been knocked through to the restaurant below, with vintage chandeliers creating a touch of drama and glamour. “This was important so that customers could sense that something else was happening upstairs and would be intrigued to venture up,” Sophie explains.

The bar itself is in a raised area, with an extensive spirits selection and a list of twisted classics and original cocktails, put together by Steve. They include a Santa Fe, mixing mezcal, lime, pineapple, honey, peach bitters and egg white, and the house cocktail, a Rhubarb Bellini, made with rhubarb puree, honey and prosecco.

A locked door hides the Prohibition-style Chelsea Prayer Room. Sophie describes this as “a small intimate speakeasy which feels as though the room had been ‘discovered’ behind a closed door”. Spirits have been decanted into unbranded antique medicine bottles on the back bar and the short cocktail list is hidden inside old hymn books. A wall cabinet contains vintage shakers, decanters and cocktail books such as Harry Johnson’s 1934 Bartenders Manual. Another gilt-framed mirror can be switched to become a TV screen.

Ceiling wallpaper creates the illusion of ornate carvings while one wall is covered in a mural designed to look like it has been found after been forgotten for 200 years. It is based on works by George Morland, a late 18th-century English painter of rural scenes, who painted the original Goat in Boots sign as payment for his tavern bill. Reproductions of his paintings can be seen throughout the venue. Accessed by punching a code into a key pad, the 30-capacity Chelsea Prayer Room is for friends and locals who sign up to free membership.

Goat is open to 1am at weekends and till midnight the rest of the week, with a covered seating area on the pavement outside. With plans to raise the profile of the cocktail bar further, the new owners have revived the tired old site with beautiful décor and a touch of glamour.

333 Fulham Road, London SW10 9QL Tel: 020 7352 1384 www.goatchelsea.com

Goat restaurant

Who did it
Design: Finch Interiors
Bespoke fixed seating: Comren
Exterior seating: Treeslounge
Project management: PSE Associates
Main contractor: Crane Interiors
Speakeasy mural: Graffiti Life
Crypt wallpaper: Surface View
Signage/awning: Spectrum SG

Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Bar magazine

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