The creak of old leather. Pipe smoke, perhaps. Open fires, stuffed game and patrons stuffed with it
Alright, the pipe smoke might be a bit rich, but the point is ETM Group isn't pitched at hip party animals. It's well-heeled Londoners enjoying some quality at the likes of The Gun and One Canada Square.
Its venues aren't late night dives, they're dinner and fine wine joints (although the recent addition of a microbrewery to the stable shows playful ambition).
What I suspect may be its most successful establishment – The Botanist in Sloane Square – isn't especially bold either. It's cream class with delicate herbal sketches.
Still, the scent of the Chelsea set and a whiff of Pippa's princess-in-law posterior are potent perfumes for any brand, so its export was perhaps overdue.
And ETM has done just that. City premises. Marking fresh territory.
It must have had a rough ride on the Tube east, though.
The animal that's emerged at Liverpool Street Station to find a lair in Broadgate Circle is quite different from the well-mannered herbivore that set out.
This Botanist no longer cares for plants. He's discarded his thin, gold-framed spectacles and thrown away his microscope.
He's bought some shades, a set of Mad Max leathers and a hunting knife. He's wrestled a croc (alligator, apparently) and mounted it above his bar.
Thirsty work, he's phoned Greenwich and had Meantime bring over half a copper brewery to slake his thirst.
“I don't really do that whole plant scene any more," he growls. "I'm more into flesh,”
His taste for the good things in life endures, stashed in the dark-wood walls of his cave.
But he's also a chicks and cocktails man now.
And to keep the party going, he's splashed some cash on the basement he thought he'd store his specimens in. There's a bar, disco lighting and a late licence.
There the reinvented Zoologist lurks. He'll be a hero in the City. A legend, a tale, an urban myth.
Suits, with loosened Friday ties, will whisper stories of his passing, bask in his reflected glory, before taking the stairs beneath a stuffed swan in flight to the paradise of his subterranean bar. He's a product of their worship.
Like its Sloane Square sister, The Broadgate branch is perfect for where it is. Perhaps they should have called them both The Chameleon and had done with it.
The Botanist is open for breakfast from 8am weekdays. The Soda Room basement bar opens until 2am Wednesday-Saturday.
Expect Latin beats from 7pm moving over to commercial house at 10pm (that's the kind the DJ gets paid for).
Consider going for brunch too – two courses for £20 or three for £25 with unlimited Prosecco, mimosas, Bloody Marys and ETM house wine for an extra £15 – 10am-5pm on Saturday from 11am on Sunday.
Get there from Canary Wharf in about 20 minutes with DLR to Bank and Central line to Liverpool Street.
The Botanist, Unit 5 Broadgate Circle, City of London, EC2M 2QS, 020 3058 9888.
Go to botanistlondon.com .