101 Star Bars: The Exhibit, London SW12

The Exhibit, Balham Station Road, London SW12, 020 8772 6556
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Very old south Londoners remember a time when London's trendy Balham was merely "the Gateway to the South" and the best pub this far south of the river was the Bedford Arms. Oh, how things have changed. Now Balham is Chelsea South and a new bar opens there every three seconds. Any locals who haven't legged it down the Northern line to Colliers Wood are left exclaiming, "My bank/ hairdresser/fruit and veg stall/living room is now a trendy boozer" and taking out a second mortgage to buy a round of raspberry beer.

One of the upsides of this bizarre transformation is The Exhibit, formerly a sort of cow shed at the back of Sainsbury's car park. A Mecca for the fundamentalist cool, it is a three-storey church of chilling out, with cocktail bar, landscaped balcony, cinema, restaurant and the best-looking barmen south of Shoreditch. Not an ordinary cinema, of course – a cinema where you can sit in a leather armchair, drink "boutique beers", eat dinner and think about how cool you are. Somehow, the Exhibit also fits in live vocalists, occasional DJs and a leafy beer garden thoughtfully screened from Sainsbury's car park by tasteful bamboos in black boxes. Do say: "I bought my house for £3.50 and now it's worth more than a small third-world country." Don't say: "HOW much a pint? I think it would be much cheaper in SW17."

Tuesday nights dinner and a movie for £15.95 (incl. cinema ticket).The Exhibit, 12 Balham Station Road, London SW12 (020-8772 6556)

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