Take a turn around East London’s cultural trappings, from 17th century interiors to Prohibition-style cocktail bars and contemporary couture – VICE, glamour and decadence, by design.
Subterranean blues NIGHTJAR
Hidden under Old Street roundabout, behind an inconspicuous door, is the finest clandestine jazz and cocktail bar in the East, conjured straight from the pages of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Music-wise, the bar hosts a refined roster of live jazz, blues and ragtime that recreates the atmosphere of a Prohibition era New York speakeasy. The cocktail menu is suitably matched, featuring 1920s-inspired drinks including Blood and Sand (Naked Grouse Scotch whisky, Cocchi sweet vermouth, sweet cherry, blood orange and mandarin, finished with liquorice) and modern signature drinks like the Kenko-Teki Swizzel (Nikka whisky, Akashi-Tai sake, green coffee, green tea, buckwheat syrup and alfalfa).
129 City Rd, EC1V 1JB // barnightjar.com
Best of British BEAGLE
Named after the steam train that used to run on the original East London Line, Beagle restaurant celebrated its first anniversary last Easter. Located in the arches of the railway bridge next to Hoxton Overground station, the space has been lavishly restored. Head chef James Ferguson, formerly of nearby Rochelle Canteen, is pioneering a menu packed with British ingredients, including smoked middle white belly ham, sand sole, monk’s beard and cucumber and traditional puddings such as spotted dick. Seasonal is order of the day, with daily menus driven by local produce. The cocktail menu is also marked by traditional British flavours including nettle, ginger and rhubarb-infused liqueurs, plus tonics and British beers and wines.
397-400 Geffrye Street, Hoxton, E2 8HZ // beaglelondon.co.uk
The hidden gem THE ROCHELLE CANTEEN
Housed in a former school, the Rochelle Canteen on Arnold Circus is one of East London’s best daytime dining spots. Secluded behind a high red-brick wall in an old bike shed, the canteen overlooks a grassy playground, and is surrounded by a host of creative studios in the adjacent school building, including the headquarters of footwear label Mr. Hare. Owned by Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold, the Rochelle Canteen features a delicious, though deliberately limited, menu of seasonal dishes, and is similarly compact in size. A hotspot for local fashion designers (and often frequented by East London’s celebrity alumni), it has an exclusive feel despite – or because of – its ‘hidden’ nature, making it one of East London’s best-loved lunchtime haunts.
Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, E2 7ES // arnoldandhenderson.com