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Review: The Imperial Durbar

Monday March 9, 2015

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The decadence of the Raj circa 1890’s sits easily with a more relaxed Indian wicker and Pimms tone at this relative newcomer to Tooting, The Imperial Durbar.

Just minutes from the tube, what could have been a kitsch attempt at backpacker chic has been skilfully crafted into a must see venue for everything from early morning Yoga with the yummy mummy set to a gin and cocktail lovers haven in the evening.

Little nods to the Indian Raj garnered from the owner brother's youth in India decorate the spacious main bar without it ever feeling cluttered. The chai menu is turned over in the afternoon to reveal a perfectly balanced and succinct cocktail selection and with 18 gins there’s no doubting where this gem’s specialities lie. And a must try is their 3 shot gin special. It's big and bold but oh so infinitely ingestible and with over 10 different tonics to mix it with you'll be lucky to spot a mosquito for the next decade.

Head to the back room to be greeted with a perfectly sized Indian canteen style area - replete with hessian covered benches - and two more intimate cushion laden sections for the more familiar. This is where to bring friends for a few drinks before correctly deciding that hunger is about to strike. Because, if it's food you're after, you're in for something of a treat.

Imperial Durbar is doors away from the justifiably famous and firm local favourite, The Cardamom Club. Place your order by pressing number nine on the lovingly restored 1900's phone which has a direct line to the restaurant. Once your meal is ready, a hurricane lamp lights up above the name of the Indian soldier under whose picture your table resides. It's cute, quaint and, more importantly surprisingly efficient.

Imperial Durbar is a refreshing addition to the South West London bar scene and one we’ll be returning to with gusto. It's one of those rarities that seems as comfortable catering to the cocktail savvy crowd as it is for romantic couples wanting a little escape or those indulging in a more extended night.

WATCH OUT FOR: Rumour has it a new garden area is in development. If the bar décor is anything to go by we can't wait for the summer.

We're pleased to announce we're starting a regular speed dating event at The Imperial Durbar. The first event is on Wednesday April 8, 2015. Click here for more info and bookings.



The beauty of Speed Dating London lies in its no-nonsense approach. You take an equal number of single girls and guys, put them in a room and give them a few minutes to chat with every other member of the opposite sex.

When you get there

Original speed dating events in London normally begin at 7.30pm. You will need to register with our hosts and to begin with they will issue you with a score sheet. This will help you to keep track of the singles that you would like to meet again and perhaps go on a date with. After a short period of mingling, your host for the evening who will run through detailed instructions and give you your starting position if you are a guy or table for the event if you are a girl.

Meet & Mingle

A London speed dating event is split into two halves, each lasting around an hour, there will be an interval at half time of about 15 minutes for speed dating London. You will have between 4 and 5 minutes with each person, after which you need to tick a box on your score sheet - "yes, I would like to meet this person again" or "no. Thanks but no thanks". Or "friend" if you'd like to get to know them platonically. Make sure that you do this after each date to keep track. Afterwards there is an opportunity for everyone to meet and mingle informally - this is often where the real action begins, so make sure you don't disappear too quickly!

Complete your score sheet

After the event you simply tick who you liked on the Original Dating website and the site works about your matches automatically. If the dates you have ticked as a "yes" have reciprocated you have a match. You will be able to view the first names and message them via our site online without revealing your email address until you are ready to. You'll be having proper first dates in no time.