A Cup of Tea with… where we sit down and chat with those who make Victoria what it is. People with a passion for Victoria, people who live here, work here, know the area, its history and its future better than anyone else.
This month we’re giving cup of tea a stylish twist by trading it in for a cocktail with Paul Hogg, the Bar Manager at Boisdale. A British restaurant with a Scottish twist serving up the best in food and drink and featuring live jazz, blues, soul and occasionally reggae. Having worked in some top locations, Paul’s seen it all from serving J.K. Rowling to Bode Miller. Having recently started working in the area, this is his take on Victoria and Boisdale.
How long have you worked in Victoria?
I arrived at Boisdale two months ago. I’ve been in the industry for nearly 15 years now. I was previously based in the city near St. Paul’s, working with Gordon Ramsay at his restaurant Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen. I worked there for four years as the bar manager but wanted a change of scene. I’m originally from Fife so I was drawn to Boisdale as it has a great Scottish heritage, a magnificent selection of whisky including Scottish single malts and an impressive selection of wine, not to mention Hebridean seafood and smoked salmon so this was exciting.
What was the biggest change here you’ve experienced since then?
I remember coming to Victoria six years ago, and since then it’s developed a lot, especially when you come out of Victoria Station. The Nova and Eccleston Yard developments have expanded; the restaurant and bar scene is booming. It’s a very up-and-coming area right now.
What’s your favourite spot in Victoria?
Aside from Boisdale and Victoria’s modernisation with key restaurants, brands, and famous chefs, it still has a classic, traditional side to it as well, with lots of little pubs that are really nice to go to. It’s great for tourism, so people can get to see the older side of London as well, which is nice.
If Victoria was a cocktail, what would it be?
I think I’d do something with whisky. Boisdale has traditional Scottish roots, so I’d look at doing a very classic cocktail, but with a modern twist, because I think that’s the way Victoria’s going. I’d use single-malt whisky, perhaps Glenfiddich 15-year-old, and twist it into a Manhattan, modernising it by changing the bitters to black walnut and cherry, instead of Angostura, and use a premium Vermouth. I’d take a formula, stir it down, and serve it straight up.
What’s your message for the people out there in Victoria?
Come and see us at Boisdale of Belgravia! Try our finest Aberdeenshire dry aged steaks and burgers, Scottish-sourced treats, including wild Highland game, Hebridean shellfish, Loch Ryan Native oysters, Dunkeld smoked salmon, and roast Dumfriesshire Blackface haggis. And don’t forget to pop round to the bar for a noggin of whisky or a mouth-watering cocktail.
Who’s the most memorable person you’ve made a drink for?
It’s endless… when I was working in a hotel I met the Dalai Lama and a lot of sporting guests, from golfers to football players. When I was in Austria I met many famous skier’s including Bode Miller, and they all like a drink. When I was younger and working in cocktail bars in Edinburgh, I met J.K. Rowling, Justin Timberlake, Ewan McGregor, and generally a lot of actors. Not Sean Connery though, he’s never around. Of course, before coming here I worked for Gordon Ramsay, and I worked on books and television shows with him, which was really interesting, but the time had come for a change.
Why should everyone visit Boisdale?
We have a lot to offer – live music, whisky, Cuban cigars (which can be enjoyed on the heated terrace), different areas in which to enjoy food and drink… People come to Boisdale of have fun (I witnessed couples of all ages dancing on Friday nights). Our prices are egalitarian, low entry-level, but we also have high-end options. My passion is hospitality, that’s why I’ve been in the industry so long. It’s looked after me, it’s been good to me, and I like to give a lot back so from my point of view there’s nothing better than welcoming people from the local area in my bar and getting to know them.
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