It’s that time of year again where we all complain about it getting dark so early, exclaiming, “It’s only 4:30! Just a month ago it’d be light until 6!” If you’re anything like me, you get extremely lazy to even go out anymore. It’s dark, cold, somehow the weird people are on the streets again (I swear they hibernate during the summer?!) and you’re constantly fantasising about escaping to the Southern hemisphere. Those guys have it so damn good. But there’s something that lures me out into that frosty, frozen abyss of London… food (and drink).
OH, food. So necessary and so delicious. Life spoils us sometimes. Even more so when you can find yummy treats in Shoreditch. So let’s start with something to warm the cockles of your heart in this grotesque (I’m being harsh, it has its beauty) English weather: Queen of Hoxton. If you don’t consider yourself the ‘cool’, ‘trendy’, ‘hipster’ type, I won’t lie, this place will intimidate you. I urge you to give it a chance because there is something purely wonderful lurking upstairs.
After you climb the stairs that I feel were designed specifically to result in you gasping for not only air but a stiff drink, you will reach a wigwam/teepee. I kid you not, folks. In the middle of London, the likes of the Gherkin not out of sight, you will find yourself on a Pocahontas-style trip… in a wigwam. You enter stepping on a cushion of wood shavings and logs posing as seats with fur blankets (this is very considerate for a bony bottom), a bar to your left, a fire and grill in the centre and neon lights dancing on the sides of the wigwam’s ‘wall’. It’s Pocahontas meets rave.
Choose from a selection of warming drinks like Pumpkin spiced cider, your regular mulled cider, spiced rum, a chocolate whisky drink and more. There’s a bar outside on the garden-like terrace for your more standard bar drinks like wine and beer. I also happen to know they provide a seemingly unlimited supply of tequila shots. Don’t ask. But perhaps the best part is the fires outside and what you can do with them. Just £1 for a stick of 5 marshmallows allows you to relive (or live for the first time) your camping days by roasting them on the fire. Careful though when you’re near that fire. On one visit to the Queen of Hoxton, the smoke blew in mine and my sister’s eyes, making it seem like we were having a very teary, emotional moment in the corner. Plus it makes you smell, and that’s never good unless you like that sort of thing.
The next place I take you on my Shoreditch Snoops is Pizza East. It’s obviously pizza related, but I’m going to start by gushing about this being the place I had one of the best cocktails (and I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to cocktails). It was a passion fruit martini, and I don’t remember much except that I didn’t want to try another on the menu. I just wanted that one all night. (This has only happened to me a couple of times, most recently in Boston. But that’s a story for another time.) I should probably mention the pizzas, too. They’re not your average pizzas, with toppings like spicy sausage, veal meatballs, chilli flakes. From the wood oven you get ox cheek, crispy pork belly and salt baked salmon. I’m really sorry vegetarians… there are options for you, I promise. I tend to run a mile from pizzas that have a really thick base (Pizza Hut comes to mind), so Pizza East was my kind of pizza.
The atmosphere is nice with a light, rustic feel, although I’m not much of a fan of shared tables when it’s really noisy, so as long as I’m sitting somewhere I can hear my companions (even if it is shared), I’m happy!
I almost feel reluctant to mention this in terms of Shoreditch as it’s set up in a few other areas, but hey, why not… The Breakfast Club. It’s a great atmosphere, wonderful food (they had a mouth watering pulled pork sandwich on the menu, so glistening reviews are inevitable) and through a door there is the bathroom and the world’s smallest disco. Yes. Combined bathroom and disco. Pitch black, disco ball, fumbling for the door to relieve your bladder. It’s amazing. I’d recommend brunch; with anything from the pulled pork sandwich I already mentioned to avocado with eggs benedict, it’s reasonably priced and has £22 bottles of Prosecco. Perfect for sharing with a few friends.
I shall leave you with another gem to try, one that’s on my list, too: Shutterbug. On Rivington Street, this creperie sounds fascinating, and I’m told it will delight at dinner with a choice of savoury and sweet crepes. I spy pulled pork, so in my books at least, we’re on to a winner… (other options available, I hasten to add.)
Do you have any suggestions of great places to eat or drink in Shoreditch? Anywhere that’s tickled your tastebuds?