The Bolt Hole opened its ‘church door’ just over two years ago and, as promised, has become the evening place of refuge for many.
Always looking to new trends and ideas, there is much newness to celebrate during an Easter-weekend-long celebration. Not least is the chance to check out the venue during the day, with The Bolt Hole being open all four Easter days from midday till midnight (rather than the usual 5pm onward).
For those who have previously ventured up the external stairs to the hidden bar, you’ll still recognise the venue – fitted out with dark green Chesterfield sofas, a six-foot-long copper bar, lots of recycled wood and bar-height windows with your choice of beach or sunset views.
What is strikingly new is the whisky cabinet, a grilled, up-lighted collection of an amazing array of whisk(e)ys, including from Japan, whose whisky has developed a cult following in the past few years. The Bolt Hole is excited to have whisky ambassador Dan Woolley on board as whisky connoisseur. ‘Thanks to Dan, we currently have more than 300 whiskys, many of them exclusive and rare releases,’ says The Bolt Hole owner, Chris Mills (known to all as Millsy).
Other drinks are by no means neglected. The Bolt Hole is the post-filming refuge of My Kitchen /Rules contestants, Alex and Emily (no surnames needed). Show favourites (at this stage of episode screening anyway – I sadly can offer no spoilers about what’s coming up), the couple had planned to start at The Bolt Hole around the same time that they were accepted for the reality TV cooking show.
‘They are worth the wait!’ says Millsy. Both Alex and Emily bring extensive hospitality experience and Alex has been busy testing new craft cocktails for launch over Easter. I was lucky to get a sneak preview taste of the Beatnik, a pretty and sharply refreshing combo of grapefruit vodka, Sloe Gin, Laphroiag Select, elderflower and beetroot vinegar, with a garnish of dehydrated grapefruit.
Food isn’t missing out. New in the kitchen is exec chef Evan White. This is a man who knows his smokehouse barbecue, sharing his knowledge of the difference between different southern American regional takes on smoked meat. I tried beautifully presented and ideal-for-sharing crab tater-tots, as well as an Oyster Po-boy, a take on a classic New Orleans snack (Po-boy is short for poor boy). Vegetarians need not fear, with smoked and roasted vegetables and vege share dishes available.
Another newness is a 20 per cent discount on drinks and food for all local hospitality staff 10pm–midnight (M, W, Th+Sun). ‘A lot of hospo workers come here after their shifts,’ says Millsy. ‘We’re also planning a secret menu of “proper food” for late nights with this crowd in mind.’ I ask all the crew – Millsy, Evan, Alex and Emily – how they will know that a customer is a local hospitality worker. ‘We just know,’ they all say, their sage nods speaking volumes of this crew’s many years of dedicated service to the hospitality life.
Head on up to The Bolt Hole this Easter from midday till midnight, or wait for the Blues crew to depart town and make it your new local hangout.