Jason Allen 14/03/24


UPDATE JULY ’24: Prelude has now finished its pop-up run, but Oriole will be opening in its new Covent Garden location shortly – watch this space.

A few years back, anyone who happened to be passing Smithfield market in the wee hours of the morning would have heard the curious sound of live jazz emanating from below the ground.

Those same people would inevitably have followed those mellifluous strains down a set of stairs to discover Oriole, a fantastic cocktail bar & live music venue that spent several years in the World’s 50 Best List before being forced to close due to redevelopment. People were understandably upset, and cruelly had one fewer place to drown their sorrows.

Well, glory be, because now it’s back for a three month popup called Prelude to road-test some new ideas (like a food menu, for one) and pave the way for the official relaunch in a gorgeous space at The Yards in Covent Garden. It’s like a teaser trailer, but for booze.


You’ll find it in the fancy new Slingsby Place development, where it sits pinned between Dishoom and Lahpet. It’s a cosy little space alright (which, given that it’s a pop up, we can forgive it for), but they’ve made good use of the room, which channels the sultry, low-lit, polished-brass vibes of the original Oriole. The seating area is wrapped in colonial-chic wall coverings, while the bar is laden with exotic bric-a-brac and ancient curios. In the corner, there’s a small piano & a microphone. It’s like the British Museum was laced with booze and shaken into a glass.


For that food menu they’ve enlisted Argentine head chef Gustavo Giallionardo to create a kind of pan-Latin American menu that involves everything from huitlacoche (aka the Mexican truffle) with mushrooms & egg yolk; to raw scallops draped in kiwi & edamame aguachile; some pumpkin with peanut sambal and green curry ice cream; and duck with orange mole & dukkah.

Some of the new cocktails chasing all of this down include very drinkable Mizuwari, which combines 12-year-old Highland Park whisky washed with chocolate miso, asparagus distillate, amontillado sherry, green walnut vermouth and cold brewed Hojoicha tea. As well as running some new ideas up the flagpole, they’re also welcoming back a few of the bar’s original menu fillers too, including their classic Acadia, which is somewhere between a whisky sour and a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.

prelude by oriole

And, perhaps most importantly? They’re also putting on live music every night, thanks to that piano.

All told, this prelude is looking like it’ll have quite the overture.


NOTE: Prelude is open now, from Wednesday to Saturday, 5pm – 11pm. You can find out more, and make a booking, at the website here

Prelude | 23 Slingsby Place, Covent Garden, WC2E 9AB

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23 Slingsby Place, Covent Garden, Central London, WC2E 9AB

7.8 | Good