I have a friend who's always thrown by the waitresses at Drosophyla. Not literally: he doesn't get that drunk, and they're generally very polite. It's the two hands printed on the back of their T-shirts that confuse him. He keeps thinking they're engaged in a steamy clinch rather than taking an order for a Cosmopolitan or a pint of Guinness, both of which are served here.
Coupled with a chaotically colourful and charming decor in a style they call 'contemporary baroque' – but which might be better described as 'eccentric gentleman artist's upmarket squat' – the T-shirts give Drosophyla a delightfully surreal atmosphere. Indeed, this bar and its customers delight in a certain comfortable oddness. It's even named after an insect: Drosophila melanogaster, also known as the banana fly, the vinegar fly or the plain-old fruit fly.
Opened in 2002 and perennially popular with a slightly older, more bohemian crowd, Drosophyla is easy to miss from the outside – it’s just a quiet doorway on a gloomy street near Consolação. Stepping inside and through the looking glass, you find yourself in a tiled room full of comfortable tables. One of which, for some reason, invariably features a couple furiously snogging, possibly inspired by the waitresses’ T-shirts. Wander down a corridor decorated with bizarre bric-a-brac, past the solitary men's loo, whose walls are plastered with filthily hilarious vintage women's underwear adverts, and you reach the main event.
It’s a leafy, paved, discreetly illuminated garden scattered with mismatched tables and chairs. Glowing with lights at one end is a cosy little shed with a bar in it. Up a flight of concrete steps is a smoker's patio which even has a few plants choking in the fumes.Like the bar itself and its eclectic clientele – anything from bright young things to aging party animals – this garden has a dishevelled elegance that doesn't need to try to be cool. Out here, the buzz is of conversation, not hype. The only flies on Drosophyla are those on the website.