There’s maybe no better shorthand for the changes sweeping West End than the soon-to-open Covent Garden. In September the Bird brothers closed Lock’n’Load, their storied bar and bistro. Next month, it will be reborn as a sumptuous, multi-level gin joint.
“I’m standing here at the back of the old Lock’n’Load, and I can see three different cranes building high-rises,” says Mathew Fearnley, bar manager for the new spot. The inspiration and namesake for the new venue, London’s Covent Garden, has a similar story. “The area used to be a herb and spice market and it’s now turned into a flourishing fine-dining precinct,” Fearnley says. “That reflects us as well.”
Fearnley’s philosophical about the changes happening in the suburb but reckons you’ll struggle to find anyone who won’t like the new venue. Tapping into a surging consumer interest in gin certainly helps.
“Gin sales in Australia have increased by 22 per cent over the last 15 years,” Fearnley says. Covent Garden will have a particular interest in Australian gins and the native botanicals they showcase. They’re even putting in a native garden out the back. “It’s just going in now. It’s looking very good,” he says.
The bar will also offer an extensive list of craft beers and ciders, with Pimm’s and Aperol Spritz on tap. Food will revolve around a menu of modern-Australian share plates.
The Birds’ renovations will completely transform the old space into a striking venue, with a stained-glass sky-dome, upper and lower courtyards and lots of hanging native plants.
“It’s all about just having a good time with quality drinks and quality food with friends,” Fearnley says.
Covent Garden will open at 142 Boundary Street in mid-November.