Where is it?
The Top Hat is located in Paperchase’s former flagship site on Tottenham Court Road. It will sit alongside Monopoly Lifesized - a ‘participatory gameplay attraction’ that brings the classic property-themed board game to life in ‘a live 4D immersive experience across a life-sized board’ - when it launches on 14 August.
Couldn’t afford Mayfair then?
Apparently not. And before you ask, there’s no free parking either. It’s however an upmarket affair - The Top Hat must have a very understanding banker - with a design that ‘reflects the regal and distinguished character of the game’s beginnings’ during America’s Gilded Age (the late 1800s). The 70-cover restaurant and 47-cover cocktail bar will feature booths influenced by the game’s bright red hotels, vintage bank vault-lined walls and reclaimed fabrics from the Piccadilly and Northern underground lines in reference to the four stations on the board. The design has been overseen by Faber.
Decor aside, to what extent will Monopoly feature in the restaurant experience?
A great deal. Guests can request a deck of Monopoly Deal (the game’s card-based spin-off) whilst they drink, or take a punt with the surprise ‘Take a Chance’ cards on selected cocktail serves. Each drink has been designed to reference the different ‘properties’ on the London board, with options ranging from the obvious - Leicester Square’s Red Carpet Daiquiri - to the obscure, with Trafalgar Square’s Lychee and Rose Pearl Martini paying homage to the original London Pearly King road sweep, whose memorial statue can be found beneath the famous square.
And the food?
Presumably to the great relief of the head chef, each dish does not reference a stop on the board with the venue instead opting for a ‘quintessentially British small plates concept’ offering ‘miniature versions of hearty classics’. These include stuffed pork belly and apple sauce, Wye Valley lamb with minted jus; fish and chips; rump steak, parsnip mash and mini Yorkshire pudding. Far be it from us to predict how it will fare with the critics - there’s no info on the chef or price point yet - but if anyone is inclined to give it a poor review we’d suggest ‘do not pass go’ as a headline.
Is it all above board, so to speak?
Of course. The Top Hat is fully licensed by Monopoly’s owner Hasbro. In other Monopoly restaurant news, McDonald’s popular Monopoly promotion launches at the end of August having been postponed by the pandemic. The top brass at Hasbro must be rubbing their hands with glee.
Is there anything else like this out there?
London has a fair few board game cafés but this is the first time we’ve heard of a restaurant based on a board game. But Monopoly Lifesized appears to be a new take on competitive socialising, joining the likes of Swingers (golf), Flight Club (darts), Sixes (cricket) and Bounce (table tennis). The sector is booming presently thanks to a ready supply of comparatively inexpensive large sites vacated by struggling retail businesses (Monopoly Lifesized and The Top Hat’s footprint is a mighty 22,000 sq ft). One could also draw parallels with other restaurants that have licensed entertainment brands, such as Leicester Square's Bubba Gump Shrimp Co and upcoming Soho ‘Batman restaurant’ Park Row. Hasbro also has nerdy fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering and My Little Pony on its books, so we await restaurant concepts based on these with interest.