Discount Suit Company, Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street is a maze of chain restaurants and bars, but if you weave through the backstreets there are some independent gems to be found. Discount Suit Company is disguised amongst the tired clothes outlets on Wentworth Street, housed in an old storeroom of the suit company. It is one of a kind, venture in and you won’t be disappointed.

It is a cosy little neighbourhood cocktail bar with old fashioned furniture and atmospheric dimmed lighting, I felt like I was visiting a magical inn from a Harry Potter book. There is the odd businessman milling around but the crowd is varied and the ambience is a lovely laid back alternative to nearby city boy hang-outs.

Beer and wine are available, but here it is all about the cocktails: bespoke and beautifully mixed variations on the classics, priced at just £7.50 each, I found it all very appealing. The bar staff, obviously keen mixologists were eager to impress, explaining the menu (printed typewriter style on a replica suit instruction sheet) to us in detail. Cocktails are simple but creative and very easy to drink. The Bebbo cocktail is a lovely fruity and light combination of gin, lemon, acacia honey and blood orange while Subtle Peat is a stronger but beautifully balanced drink with blended Scotch, a dash of islay malt and lemon creole bitters.

A lovely low-key bar, that promotes the prohibition trend without the pretentious prices. Just like your favourite suit these drinks are tailored to your exact taste.

More information here: www.discountsuitcompany.co.uk

Pizza Union, Liverpool Street

Pizza Union is an Italian industrial style canteen near Liverpool Street serving super thin pizzas super fast all day. It is as simple as that.

The venue is busiest at lunchtime when the city workers flock in to grab their pizza before returning to the office. The open-plan, airy interior lends itself to big group outings or quick meet-ups, perhaps less ideal for an intimate date. Communal style basic tables are dressed with salt, pepper and chilli oil, the empty surface cries out for a pizza plate. After a cocktail round the corner at Discount Suit Company, Pizza Union was the perfect option to satisfy our seemingly insatiable hunger. Even on a Tuesday evening the large room was full and it had a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

You order at the counter, and when your buzzer is activated your pizza is ready to collect, just 3 or 4 minutes after ordering. The menu has a large selection of classic and creative recipes, though the staff seemed happy to cater to my additional ingredient request. Calabria is a rich and luxurious option with tomato sauce, mozzarella, mascarpone, n’duja spicy sausage and rocket, I particularly loved the flavoursome meat. We also sampled the Pepperoni with additional black olives, red onion and peppers… it was a Mediterranean dream with fresh flavoursome vegetables complemented by the intense pepperoni slices. The pizza bases are thin and tasty and cooked to perfection. I would have loved a pepper grinder for some crushed black pepper but we made good use of the chilli oil. The drinks fridge features familiar Italian beers and soft drinks, I chose a delightfully refreshing Blood Orange sparkling San Pellegrino.

Ice-cream pots are provided from Soho parlour, Gelupo, but I would recommend the authentic Dolce (a dough ring with nutella and mascarpone). Arriving warm to our table we insisted we would never be able to conquer such an epic dessert. Minutes later we were scraping the plate clean… it was indulgently delicious, served hot with a creamy chocolatey centre.

I am still marvelling at the reasonable prices… a Margarita costs just £3.95. Pizza Union is a blessing for those working in this business area; I’m a rare visitor to Liverpool Street but I will keep this great pizzeria in mind next time I’m nearby.

More information on Pizza Union here: www.pizzaunion.com

Aperitivo at L’Anima, Liverpool Street

L’Anima is a design haven, a smart, award-winning Italian restaurant in the heart of the city. The menu, which I only glanced at, offers enticing contemporary Italian dishes by renowned chef Francesco Mazzei.

Three of us met up there for an after-work aperitivo, a lovely Italian tradition of drinks and nibbles in the early evening. This habit is becoming more popular across the rest of Europe, as restaurants begin to cater for guests wishing to just stay for a cocktail and snack. Hidden around the corner from Liverpool Street Station, L’Anima is not easy to find and I felt flustered when I arrived after fighting through the swarm of suited businessmen on the streets outside. Unlike many of the venues in this corporate-orientated area, L’Anima manages to create a stylish and relaxed atmosphere.

The cocktail list is dominated by Campari-based aperitivi, typically strong, bitter drinks with a splash of Prosecco or other mixer. Not a fan of a bitter taste, I chose one of the more subtle Martini cocktails: the fresh ginger, green apple, bison grass Zubrowka vodka, and apple juice present an energising and sweet drink. My friend chose the much-recommended L’Anima Star, an unusual combination of exotic flavours with a dash of Prosecco to finish. This passionfruit and vanilla orange concoction was beautifully presented with half a passionfruit floating on the surface. Served alongside it was a vintage glass containing an iced shot of Prosecco. My second guest tried the more grownup and traditional L’Anima Negroni, a twist on the original recipe using vanilla aromatic vermouth and a touch of tequila. Served in a tumbler with an impressive ball of ice, this was more of a boy’s drink.

I almost forgot about the food aspect of aperitivo. A small newspaper-lined bowl arrived halfway through our drinks. Delicious mouthfuls of pastry with a tangy tomato and cheese interior. It was a nice bite, though I expected something slightly more substantial.

The drinks were delicious and the atmosphere supercool, hopefully next time I’ll try the restaurant but this time it was not to be. We left in search of supper elsewhere.

More information and book here: www.lanima.co.uk