It’s official, Bonbar know how to throw a party.
The new and exclusive private members club unrolled the red (actually it was black) carpet this weekend and hosted a launch bash to be proud of. Described as “Newcastle’s most decadent playhouse”, the aspirational new venue is a beautiful transformation of part of The Assembly Rooms on Fenkle St, and the £1million refurb certainly compliments the old Grade II listed building well. Upon arriving slinky hostesses greet you in a swanky entrance room, take your coat and usher you through double doors to the large main room, dominated by the fully stocked bar down the centre and flanked by multiple intimate booths on either side. There’s a stage at one end for the live entertainment and, through a hidden door to the right an even more exclusive Champagne Bar named the 467 Club. Imagine a Gatsby-esque soirée but with an entirely more modern decor. A space filled with the beautiful and successful people, attired in sharp suits and cocktail dresses, revelling in table service and unlimited champagne. The story goes that in 1823 a fancy dress ball was held in the building and 467 of Newcastle’s elite, best-dressed, upper class high society were in attendance that night. This is where the Club takes it’s name from. It was a fitting event and as it turns out, as the foundation stone of this very building states, these are destined to be “Rooms dedicated to the most elegant recreation” even now, nearly 200 years later.
Not long after we arrive MD Antony Michaelides interrupts the mingling and paparazzi-ing to offer a short speech before the official ribbon is cut and the night really begins. Antony is the man whose family have kept the Assembly Rooms ticking over for so long and, though it has had a great many uses over the years, with this newest incarnation he hopes to primarily appeal to business men and corporate types. With this in mind the membership tiers start with the ones aimed at smaller local and national businesses. Bonbar hope to offer an elite retreat away from the hen-party culture and provide somewhere quiet and mature for meetings, business lunches, networking and after-work drinks. The basic levels of membership won’t grant you many of the perks, or indeed access to the 467 Club. The 467 Membership (£1000 per annum) gets you such exclusivities as complimentary Tattinger, invites to private events, 10% off food, priority booth bookings, free transport at the end of your evening, complimentary canapés, a personal host and your own drinks cabinet to keep your purchased bottles of premium ‘spirits’ in. Snazzy, non? However there is a tier to top this; the Royal Membership (£10,000 per annum) which simply states “If you had to ask, it’s not for you”. That makes me desperately want to a. know more and b. attain Royal membership status for at least an evening. Keep dreaming Sarah.
Excellent quality food and a varied menu have been a focal point for the rebrand and the cocktail list displays the fine work of the award-winning Johny Hume (you may know his name from the bar at Seaham Hall) who has created a menu especially for Bonbar. Having tasted a selection of dishes from the menu and sampled some cocktails I can verify that these are indeed worth the hype. As we’ve discussed in previous posts I like my cocktails to taste grown-up, rather than of sugar and strawberries. The drinks we were offered at Bonbar really hit the spot. The tiny tastes and morsels of canapés were doing very little to absorb the amount of fizz one can consume between the hours of 7pm and 3am. So the evening and my memory quickly get hazy. I do distinctly remember a man known only as Champagne Dave (because this is what we named him) with a seemingly never-ending bottle of Tattinger, being almost singlehandedly responsible for my hangover the next day. I remember decadence and dancing, moving through to the 476 Club and cosying up in one of the booths, schmoozing, chatting and drinking. Yes, definitely drinking. And then I remember collecting my coat and being sad to leave, but glad that I’d had the chance to spend the evening having a peek into such an exciting new venue.. Maybe membership is on the cards after all. The ‘Royal’ one. Obviously daahling.
– N.B. This evening and all of the entertainment, food and drinks were complimentary for one night only, so thanks to Bonbar, Antony, and the impossibly attentive staff for such a good time. Regardless this review is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Please don’t insult anyone by insinuating otherwise. I know bloggers are getting some bad press at the moment but not everyone will throw their integrity to the wind for a free meal and I hope that none of you suspect me of any of that shady business. I only write about things that have made enough of an impression to inspire my typing fingers. There simply isn’t enough time to waste my life writing about mediocrity!