Benugo Bar & Kitchen @ BFI
In Hollywood, the movie moguls mooch around Chateau Marmont, that absurd pseudo-gothic castle complete with pool, jungle garden and monogrammed doggie bowls. In London, matters are (appropriately) rather more low-budget – for face time and free WiFi, film folk bring their first drafts and showreels here. But the first hurdle is finding the right Benugo. Amateurs and tourists get no further than Benugo’s perfectly passable riverside option, but the insider’s bar is on the east side, past the BFI’s three screens. Industry activity is clearly divided between the zones: treatment and script brainstorms in the dark, cosy lounge bar featuring swirly, stripy Designers’ Guild sofas, and high-powered schmoozing in the whitewashed, glass-fronted restaurant that opens out into Pompidou-esque architecture. Ably serviced by the Warner bros (no, not those ones – Ben and Hugo Warner; see Serpentine Bar & Garden, see Snack), the slickly run bar offers cocktails made with pride and posh spirits, a restaurant-calibre wine list, imported speciality beers, British organic cider and gourmet snacks (Maris Piper chips, charcuterie, Neal’s Yard cheese boards). Rather like ‘Le Chat’, business loosens up considerably after dark, with pianists at the white baby grand, DJ parties, and inevitable indiscretions.