Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Hoxton Square - three of the best

At first glance Hoxton Square is a quite unremarkable place, just like any other square anywhere in this part of town. It's not even pretty in the way that maybe Primrose Hill is; it has a slight lingering whiff of the down and out it used to be before it became famous.
It still comes with a huge amount of hype, the place to be if you're hip and edgy, if you're one of the cool kids. The reality is probably that the really cool kids have moved on in the general direction of Hackney and Dalston but that said it still has a great vibe and is now a slightly awkward mix of tourists, hipsters and city suits.

You need to walk round it a few times just to get the lay of the land and to be fair you could walk round it several times in 5 minutes, its not big by any standards.
so it's maybe not the best looking girl in the place but certainly the one you're going to have most fun with!
Hoxton Square is dense with bars and eateries but I'm going to pick three of the best.
The Red Dog Saloon has to be up there, why?, well I like it first up because its almost a one off, OK one is opening in Clapham sometime soon but Hoxton Square has started to get that creep of the chains. Byron is here which is great and you get a damn good burger in Byron whether it's here or in Bluewater and Bill's too, not knocking them but I don't want Hoxton Square to become everyplace for everyman.

The other thing I like about Red Dog is its an uncool joint in very cool place. I was there a couple of weeks back and it was full of everybody, kids included. A Tuesday night and it was rammed!. Nuts.
This is definitely a place to eat meat and drink beer, if you're a veggie of any denomination then move on there's nothing to see here!

I've been to a lot of similar places in America, mostly in Colorado, and this is as good if not better than most of them which is pretty decent for the east end of London.
So what to eat? well for me it has to be a burger. The Red Dog is well known for the Devastator Challenge and why exactly is it a challenge? well my friend this is why and I quote straight from the menu:

The Devastator
3 x16oz patties, 200g pulled pork, 6 rashers applewood smoked bacon & 6 slices american cheese

The Devastator

Ha, hardcore! I obviously didn't have one of these, mine was only about half the size but it was very good indeed and wash it down with a beer from the Camden Brewery and the job is definitely a good'un. Good place, like it!.

In my first post I raved on about Ruby on Charlotte Road well they also have a cafe in the Square which, largely speaking does the same stuff but the kitchen is in the back so it doesn't have that "we're all in this together" feeling about it but that's not a bad thing it's just different.

Lots of specials, all the usual ciabatta sandwiches, I was there this week and had a pretty decent mushroom and leak risotto. Nice ambiance and it sort of sits in that middle ground between cafe and restaurant which I quite like especially at lunchtime, thoroughly recommend it.

Ruby Cafe

My final pick in the Square has to go to Happiness Forgets.

Happiness Forgets is a ridiculously cool basement bar, if you didn't know it was there you would never find it, its a bit like Nola on Rivington Street, no signs, nothing. Against my better judgement I'll let you in on the secret: the flight of stairs right in front of Ruby, thats where you have to go!

When you eventually find your way to the door your chances of getting through it are, in my experience, about 1 in 4. No one is allowed to stand so no empty seats no deal. Look at the strapline on their website: Great cocktails, no wallies  says it all really!
But if you do get in wow! dark, intimate and almost a little clandestine, like you're there but you shouldn't be. I went with my son Elliot, he's 22 and he loved it, eclectic mix of people and the cocktails are fantastic, some clever variations on the classics, try the Tokyo Collins, really good.

Elliot at Happiness Forgets

You can book a table here but they leave some free for people who show up on spec so not easy. Definitely going to be a regular for me in the future and could probably turn into my number 1 bar in Shoreditch, maybe, lets see. 
Actually, final thought, Time Out reviewed Happiness Forgets about 18 months ago and gave them 5 stars - not just me then!
So that's my Hoxton Square, there are several other notable venues here but for lunch, dinner and cocktails these are my three favourites by miles.

Square MealSquare Meal

No comments:

Post a Comment