Sunday, 22 June 2014

Rivington Street: short and sweet

Rivington Street runs right through the heart of Shoreditch between Great Eastern Street and Shoreditch High Street. For a relatively short street - you can walk from one end to the other in under five minutes - it has a ridiculous choice of pubs, cocktail bars, restaurants and even a club so if you're looking for a good night out and barely want to move then this is the place for you!

Where to start? Well why not with a cocktail or two, so let's go to one of my favourite bars in Shoreditch, not my actual favourite but definitely in my top three.

Callooh Callay is at the eastern end of Rivington Street and is certainly an interesting place. The decor is a little confused for my liking, it has this brilliant C.S Lewis thing going on with a wardrobe door that you go through to get to the back bar but some of the other touches seem a little out of whack. 

That said it feels like a special place and it is. 
Get past the slightly cringe names of the cocktails and you will find them consistently good and very innovative, the cocktail list is given to you in an oyster card wallet, sounds twee, shouldn't work, but actually does.  The bar staff are very knowledgable, I'm somewhat partial to a small glass of wine now and then and if they don't have what I want they always suggest a good alternative - I like that. 
I tend to just bowl up and sit in the front bar but if you want to be in the quieter more private back bar through the wardrobe then you should book a table, it can get pretty busy. 
They do an excellent range of bar snacks so pretty good as an after work hangout or if you just don't fancy sitting in a restaurant for a couple of hours.
Interesting recent addition of an upstairs bar which is billed as a kind of hidden/secret/sanctuary/members only type of gig -  becoming a bit of a trend in Shoreditch this is.
Overall Callooh Callay is a go to place for me, very cool, very funky, a real one off, like it a lot.

So assuming you do fancy sitting in a restaurant for a couple of hours then Rivington street has a couple of good'uns. 
The first one being the well known and very busy Tramshed, you know, part of the HIX group, the one with the Damien Hirst cow, looks great but I've never been there - views anyone?
[Sidebar 1: HIX Oyster & Chop House in Cowcross Street is brilliant]
The second place is Rivington Grill which I have to say gets my vote every day of the week.
[Sidebar 2: Mark Hix also originally set up Rivington Grill]

Rivington Grill is owned by Richard Caring, he of Caprice Holdings who also own The Ivy, J.Sheekey, Le Caprice etc. Sounds impressive but Rivington Grill and The Ivy both actually have the same philosophy: great British food at reasonable prices. And thats exactly what you get here, a really solid menu which delivers great quality food every time and really doesn't break the bank. I love the vibe at Rivington too, relaxed but with shades of formality, a bit clubby maybe? Yeah thats probably it. I would be happy just sitting at the bar having a drink, its that kind of place.

The bar at Rivington Grill

Been here a few times, love the eggs benedict as a starter (yes really) the scallops are excellent too and try the burger for a main course, very nice!  Basically everything is good and the wine list isn't bad either, big recommendation from me.

Night still young? Well my last place on Rivington Street actually really is one of my favourite places in Shoreditch, mentioned it in passing in my first post but lets go back for another look.

NOLA really goes for the New Orleans homage thing; does it succeed? Well I've never been to New Orleans but I'll bet it's full of places like this so yes it probably does.
What is it about these bars in Shoreditch that they have to be so mysterious and hard to find? Happiness Forgets is the same, the first time you go you have to walk up and down the street looking like a complete tourist because there are no signs and you definitely don't want to ask anyone!
OK I revealed the secret directions to HF in my Hoxton Square post so this is how you find NOLA, ready?
Go into the Bedroom Bar, go right in and find the little staircase on the right, go up it and voila NOLA.

Ian McIntyre working the magic at NOLA

What you find is a very dark, very cool, very intimate bar that would be right at home in the French Quarter, lazy ceiling fans, a copper bar, French cafe tables and some very good cocktails indeed. The manager Ian McIntyre is an exceptional mixologist and is passionate and knowledgeable about his trade. On my first visit he gave me tasters of so many different drinks I was feeling no pain by the time I actually paid for something!
The best cocktails, I think, are the Hurricane, a Big Easy classic, and the Sazerac but don't stop there, take Ian's advice and you'll definitely have a good time!

The Sazerac

A little known fact: NOLA is the only bar outside North America to have earned the Seal of the Sazerac from the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society which is pretty damn cool.
Add a few bluesy musicians into the mix and a cigar terrace and you have somewhere to chill out that is second to none in Shoreditch and maybe in London.
Members only after midnight (that members thing again) but free to join so why not. 
I am actually in love with this place.

So, for me, that's a very decent night out on Rivington Street.

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