Published on June 29th, 2015 | by Rebecca Anne Milford0
Summary: The combination of relaxed ambience, delicious food and original libations make Tozi a real treat that has successfully transported Italian charm to the busy streets of London
It was a hot, muggy day at the beginning of summer as I wandered from Victoria station, heading the five minutes towards Tozi bar and restaurant. I must say, I’ve always thought of this area as more of a crossover place – where I’ll be coming or going on to somewhere else. But as I wandered to Gillingham Street it dawned on me how ideally Tozi is located. It’s just off the beaten track enough that it isn’t swamped with tourists, and yet has a postcode smack in the middle of the action.
The heat was getting to me and I was regretting not having checked out what kind of place it was – as I passed intimate cafes and shadowy pubs, I could only hope Tozi would have more of an ‘breathable’ atmosphere. Luckily, my prayers were answered.
Passing through the glass doors, I entered into an airy, bright space, with high ceilings and a wall completely made of glass. It was cool, naturally lit, and the babble of chatter confirmed that many others found Tozi the ideal oasis to unwind after work on a Friday night.
I was met by smiling staff, exuding the professional and friendly service that Italians excel at. Soon I had sunk into the caramel leather seating, and had been handed a menu by my waiter Andrea as I waited for my companions. Perusing both the cocktail and food lists is guaranteed to make your mouth water.
Tozi has a distinctively Venetian aspect about it – they serve small sharing plates known as ciccetti, Italian wines and cocktails, and Venetian aperitivi. It was these cocktails I was busy inspecting now, running my eyes down the mixture of classics and exciting new libations created by the Tozi bar maestros.
Names such as Milano Calling, Venetian Shrub and Vatican Secrets leapt out at me, partly due to their tongue-in-cheek names displaying more Italian charm, and partly due to the intriguing ingredients. I was especially pleased to see that they noted the kind of serve it consisted of – too many times have I been in the mood for something short in a martini glass and had to ask a waiter to reel off options. Luckily my friends soon arrived, and we settled into the relaxed, chic surrounds to indulge in some Tozi Classics.
It’s hard to say which the preferred cocktails of the evening were – they were all incredibly accomplished and so very different. The Sir Negroni packed a punch, and didn’t disappoint. Served from an oak barrel, it caught the light with its beautiful amber hue and had a definite cinnamon-esque spice that cleverly complemented the herbaceous, slightly bitter notes of the Campari.
My drinking partner’s Vatican Secrets was a huge hit on the table – for one thing, it looked very pretty, arriving a pale golden colour and with a little chilli brightening the drink. Consisting of tequila, agave, lime, chilli and mint, it was a great twist on a margarita. Fresh, zingy, just sour enough, but with a following heat from the chilli that made for a very addictive tipple.
Another of the inventions that drew huge murmurs of appreciation was the Milano Calling. Arriving in a short rocks tumbler, it was a heavenly and wonderfully complex mixture of Glenfiddich Scotch, Campari and Martini Rosso. The secret ingredient? Barbeque essence – and boy, what marvelous essence! Every time we went to take a sip we got a diving waft of smokiness that was the ideal accompaniment to the sweet drink. And to make it even better, a few shards of crispy maple bacon were served on the side to further enhance the taste.
And that’s not all – we tried a palate cleansing celery concoction, a decadent libation that merged fashionable rye with sherry and toffee liquor, and a fragrant and exotic taste of summer in a glass that came courtesy of the Lime and Basil Punk – rum, honey water, egg white, basil and lime.
All this drinking couldn’t be achieved without proper sustenance, and if you like small nibbly plates that pack a punch of flavour then Tozi is the place for you. We snacked on the most wonderful Pizzetta – you must try the mozzarella, wild mushroom & black truffle. It is a lesson in luxurious flavour combinations and practically blew our taste-buds with the amazing pow of truffle. Fried zucchini are ideal for nibbling and highly addictive, while Tozi’s ravioli proves that no one does pasta like the Italians do pasta.
We finished the experience feeling nicely full, and with a true respect for the cocktails that the bar team are creating. They’re exciting, adventurous, and yet not so far out-there that you question the concept. In fact, the combination of relaxed ambience, delicious food and original libations make Tozi a real treat that has successfully transported Italian charm to the busy streets of London.
Tozi, 8 Gillingham St, SW1V 1HJShare This Post