The form guide suggested AvroKO Hospitality Group’s Saxon + Parole would be a runaway winner, and the result is as expected. A group of hospitality, catering and design specialists with the Midas touch, AvroKO has a reputation for pairing classy environments with critic-pleasing food, so no one was backing against this venue on Bowery and Bleecker, but just because you are favourite, you still have to put in a winning performance.
There are subtle allusions to the equestrian – a pair of handsome portraits of the eponymous animals (champion racers from turn-of-the-century New York), a few bits of tack here and there, and a ceiling full of downward-facing horseshoes that would give a superstitious person a lifetime’s worth of nightmares – but although the overall look of the place has the sleek finish of the coat of a well-groomed thoroughbred, the venue certainly doesn’t feel overpoweringly “horsey”.
Being known to take a drink every now and then, one of our favourite features is the Cocktail Cabinet. Bar maestro Masa Urushido and his team will whip up a bespoke cocktail which can be labelled and stored in the attractive glass-fronted cupboard, ready to pull down and pour the minute the customer walks back in. It’s a great idea when you’re with friends, but may give the impression of an over-developed drinking habit if you’re bringing a date, or the boss. Still, to thine own self be true, as they say.