Saturday 9th November - 2013 may well be remembered as the year that Street Food really started to take over the London food scene. Billed by some as "The Summer of Grub", we were spoiled with markets, popups and events all over the city. But what happens when it gets cold outside? Surely the restaurants, bars and pubs will come into their own again? Not if Street Feast, Night Tales and Kerb have got anything to do with it. Both Street Feast and Night Tales launched their Winter popups two weeks ago, so I got on the trusty Orange Line to the far East. To break up the journey to Broadway Market, I made a couple of stops along the way, starting with a new bar on Shoreditch High Street.
Upstairs at Nancy's is a cosy little bar, tucked away above the excellent Crown & Shuttle pub near Shoreditch High Street. There are only a few tables so don't leave it too late. It has been smartly done up with fake shop fronts to give the impression of sitting outside on a Victorian street. I met List Leader Natalie and Team List debutant for a quick drink after their disappointing trip to the overhyped Experimental Food Society Spectacular at The Old Truman Brewery.
The drinks menu is short but interesting. There are bottled beers from London breweries such as Five Points, Partizan, Redchurch and Weird Beard. Red and white wine are both served directly from barrels. For £8.00 you can have one of their two barrel aged cocktails, The London Negroni (Kamm & Sons Ginseng Spirit, Vermouth and Gin) or Nancy (Kamm & Sons, Vermouth and Mezcal). Food comes from the Crown & Shuttle downstairs.
They are now taking bookings for Christmas at Nancy's, a festive banquet for £40 which includes a great deal of food, and spiced mulled wine or mead on arrival. It would be a unique place to have a Christmas dinner - book now!
Our next stop was Sager + Wilde on Hackney Road, halfway to Broadway Market from Hoxton Overground. I tried to pop in to this lovely wine bar on my last crawl around the area, but they shut rather early at 11pm to appease their new neighbours. Hopefully they will be able to extend this in the New Year once they have settled in.
Sager + Wilde are Michael and Charlotte Sager-Wilde who ran a very popular wine bar popup at the end of 2012. They have now found a permanent home, and they haven't skimped on the design. We were very taken with the pavement light bar top. There is a Daily Menu with affordable wines and fizz, available by the glass and bottle, and a slightly more pricey Market List with the likes of Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru Domaine Henri Boillot 2005 Burgundy at £148. Takeaway is £10 off the list price. There are some interesting bottled beers, as well as a few cognac, sherry and vermouth options. To eat, there are grilled cheese sandwiches, tartines, charcuterie, cheese, snacks and even ice cream.
We were well looked after at the bar by Michael on our brief visit, who started by pouring us some free sparkling water which he struggles to give away as most people think they have to pay for it. Cassie went for a glass of the Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene 'Bottle Fermented' Zuchetto 2012 Veneto and I greatly enjoyed my white Macon Uchizy Talmard 2011 Burgundy. I highly recommend paying these guys a visit, and staying longer than we did! I will be back.
Our 3rd stop of the evening was Street Feast's latest popup, Hawker House - an indoor night market with street food, hot cocktails, a whisky bar, beer, wine, DJs and, as they would say, good vibes. It is open every weekend until the 14th of December (when they will hopefully have a Christmas party of some kind). It is open from 5pm-2am (hooray for the late license!) every Friday & Saturday - £3 entry between 7pm and midnight and free otherwise. We were joined by Team List regular Lauren and Broadway Market locals Olly & James who bizarrely decided to cycle 30 seconds down the road from their flat.
After a short queue in the cold, we made our way indoors to the toasty Hawker House, inspired by the hawker centres of Singapore and decorated in the familiar Street Feast style with attractive multi-coloured bulbs strung up all over the place. The traders are mostly familiar faces (Spit & Roast, Smokestak, Breddos Tacos, Yum Bun, Rola Wala, B.O.B's Lobster, Sorbitium and more), and it is good to see Morito tapas & mezze bar from Exmouth Market getting involved. I won't go into all the details about everything that we ate, though I greatly enjoyed by Baba G's Biryani Burrito from the Bhangra Burger team. Here are some photos to whet your appetite:
On the bar front, they have the reliable Rotary Bar for giant cocktails, craft beers and wine, but the Summer Gin Store has been replaced by the Winter Whisky Bar complete with over 50 bottles to choose from and a random whisky generator for the indecisive. For more exciting wine, there is the excellent Street Vin stall with a restaurant quality list including a Magnum of the week. Finally, there is the Hot Bar which offers several warming drinks such as Hot Buttered Rum, Hawker Hot Chocolate (laced with Cognac and green Chartreuse) and Hot Applegrass (with Zubrowka, lemon, ginger and apple juice). This seems like a great idea as soon as you walk in, but not so clever 15 minutes later when you are down to your t-shirt and after a cold beer as it is pretty hot inside! I do feel that they possibly haven't made the right call making it indoors. Whilst they have done wonders with the site, it isn't quite as magical as their Dalston Yard effort, and I personally am a big fan of layering up and braving the winter winds with a mulled wine in one hand and an oversized German sausage in the other. However, the 2am late license is a huge improvement from previous installments and something that most outdoor Christmas markets can only dream of.
Our locals disappeared to some terrifying sounding club night, leaving Lauren and I far from home, so we decided to get the bus over to the new players on the night market scene, Night Tales, before hopping back on the Overground. They have set themselves up in a car park in Dalston Junction, a stone's throw away from the last Street Feast site (whose signs are still up), and are open every Thursday-Saturday in the run up to Christmas. Opening times are Thursday 6pm-11pm, Friday 6pm-midnight are Saturday 4pm-midnight, and there is again £3 entry though I'm not sure when it applies. Up to date information is available on their Facebook page - click here.
Unlike Street Feast, they have decided to stay outdoors, and the atmosphere is all the better for it. Crammed under a large canopy are several bars, including a Negroni station and a raised Mezcal mezzanine (changing to a Shake, Rattle & Stir Gin Bar next week), and some fantastic street food traders. They have done well to secure the services of BAO, Rainbo, Le Petit Paris, Patty & Bun and Pizza Pilgrims. They also have the Smokey Tails boys fresh from their summer popup in Hackney Wick, who come with the added bonus of DJ Seth Troxler. As well as top DJs, they will also have live music including an African funk band tomorrow (Saturday 23rd November) which sounds right up my street. We grabbed some BAO, a couple of deadly Mezcal concoctions and some hot cider and soaked up the buzzing atmosphere.
Which one you prefer out of Hawker House and Night Tales will be down to personal taste. They are both wonderful places to spend an evening, though Night Tales just edges it for me by staying outdoors. There is plenty of room for both of them in London - who knows how many there will be this time next year. Let me know what you think!