We sent our friend Patrick Bateman to review new 80s sensation Nocturnal Animals from The Wilderness’ Alex Claridge and James Bowker.
I take off my Walkman at the front door of new bar and restaurant Nocturnal Animals in the pinkish neon glow of the window sign as the maître d’ walks to the front desk to greet me, his Cerruti 1881 purple suit perfectly tailored. “Good evening Mr. Halberstram, you’ve a reservation?” He’s mistaken me for that moron Marcus Halberstram. It seems logical because Marcus also works at P&P and does the exact same thing I do. “Bateman, actually. I’m joining Luis Carruthers.” “Sorry, Mr. Bateman, of course, right this way”.
Carruthers is sipping a clear cocktail from a stylish coupe as I seat myself on the blue leather and velvet benching and I am suddenly seized by a wave of anxiety over what drink to choose which lessens only when the bar manager James Bowker in a possibly Marc Jacobs printed shirt explains that I only have to pick a fruit and a style from the menu and he’ll make a perfect concoction. I opt for a Sharp Pink Grapefruit, enjoying this new concept, and my drink arrives balanced perfectly with flavours of peach and rose. Carruthers orders a Short Mango cocktail which I try before he does and while the flavours are also fantastic I am relieved that I have ordered the better drink.
The bar is festooned with neon printed geometric floor to ceiling pendants and we observe the other tipsy clientele enjoying Huey Lewis and the News, Genesis (I’ve been a big fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke), Whitney, Erasure, and a song from Dirty Dancing which I can’t remember the name of, overlooked by staff standing on an industrial looking walkway above the bar containing shelves of exotic liquors all of which I will drink.
We finish our second round of cocktails and I’m buzzing as the three-martini lunch has not worn off before these aperitifs kick in. Later I will put the ice face pack in the freezer to deal with the inevitable hangover. Walking through the corridor to the restaurant glorifies us in searing white light and I wish I had my polaroid camera which is still on its bedroom tripod. I see at a table in the corner that Tim Price is eating dinner with Courtney and that her Bottega Veneta scarf is an accidental match to the red blue white triangular flooring. He will be mortified when I tell him this and I am totally thrilled.
Our table has a good view of the restaurant and the orderly open kitchen. The chairs are comfortable and the cutlery is fine. Carruthers chooses an orange pinot grigio which is all honey and cream and will match the tasting menu perfectly and I am outraged that he has picked so well. I note various scene luminaries at tables including Tara, Jess, and Sherwin; everyone wants to see what this hubbub is about.
After my rigorous exercise routine I am hungry and the first dish of chicken liver parfait looks delicious served on a dish like a hollowed-out ancient stone. Its linseed crisp provides textural change and the hoisin and plum add sweetness and a light perfume. As predicted the wine works beautifully.
Next up Monk Fish tempura with extremely punchy garlic aioli. The flesh is white and succulent. Last week the nouveau cuisine I ate at Dorsia consisted of a big white plate with nothing on it, I am happy to see that the interpretation here is tasty and filling.
Next is pink Iberico Pork served in cloudlike slightly sweet Bao with a crisp lettuce leaf and mayonnaise. On from there another elegant looking Asian fusion dish of duck and fois gras gyoza served in an impractical boat which that animal Carruthers picks up and pours in to his mouth. Understandable given the tasty sauce that is otherwise inaccessible. More Asian fusion comes next in the form of a Tuna Tartare with Wasabi, the heat enough to tingle at the back of my nose, and the soft tuna is set off by the cracking black sesame crisps.
Softly spiced with red Thai flavours a sweet scallop is served next with deep fried rice noodles on a psychedelic plate. Our final and meatiest savoury dish is a quail katsu which reminds me to drop two Quaalude with my wine which is now bottle two and I am starting to slur. The breaded fried ballotine is excellent as is the aromatic spring role, vibrant green pak choi, and fruity katsu sauce.
I need the bathroom but I take a wrong turn: this is not an exit. I find the men’s room and I am freaked out by the hand shaped coat hooks and the French country wallpaper which is interrupted by vagrants and violent teenagers. That’s the lude kicking in.
Back at the table dessert is already served and that isn’t helping as its decorative chocolate shards are coloured and shaped like Courtney’s scarf and therefore the flooring. The chocolate mousse is glossy and rich and I could eat another as it is delicious. Finally we have a super sharp yuzu petit four.
I pay the bill with my American Express Black card which I know will depress Carruthers as he has not yet been invited to have one and he leaves the cash tip because the waiter is great putting up with our rudeness and my slurring. We walk upstairs to the bar and take an interesting bourbon as digestif amidst the humming crowd who are jigging to the music and drinking cocktails, the smart staff keeping the whole place in order. I leave him talking to some Vassar chick and hail a cab before my nightly blood lust returns and they realise I simply am not there.
So, erm, thanks Patrick, for that review. Nocturnal Animals is bought to us from The Wilderness team. The ground floor bar offers cocktails and other beverages and a riff on afternoon tea. The subterranean restaurant offers fixed menus for lunch from £28 and for dinner from £45. Nocturnal Animals takes part in the Independent Birmingham discount card scheme and you can find details of available discounts on that here. You can book on their website here https://www.nocturnal-animals.co.uk