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Friday 17 January 2014

Clutch - Climpson's Arch - Rita's Bar & Dining - Skylodge - Farr's School of Dancing

Saturday 7th December - Time to catch up on the busy run up to Christmas, starting with a rambling evening out in East London, centred around a trip to Platterform's new Skylodge space in London Fields.  Tim was keen to push on with his Team List account after spending many months away in Paris this year, so we packed in as much as we could.

Our original plan was to start at the Wigwambam on the roof of the Queen of Hoxton, but it was sadly closed for a private event.  The rooftop installation is Nordic themed this year. I was a huge fan of the wigwam last year, so I will make an effort to get back there soon for some hot drinks, spoon carving and their open grill in a cosy setting.  

Just round the corner is the attractive Shoreditch Food Village, a striking red tent with several street food vendors inside including Yalla Yalla,  We popped our heads in as Tim's tummy was rumbling, but we decided to push on for the moment.

Top Left Clockwise - Craft Beer Social Club, Wigwambam (x2) and Yalla Yalla at Shoreditch Food Village
We powered our way up Shoreditch High Street (passing by Martin Morales' new Andina restaurant) and down the Hackney Road before cutting off right down Ravenscroft Road to find new free range chicken joint, Clutch.

Clutch have quirkily set up shop in an old estate pub, in a quiet area in between Hackney Road & Columbia Road. They have transformed the space beautifully, with a stylish dining room (with incredible giant lightbulbs) and a trendy bar at the back.

Clutch Chicken
We were only making a flying visit en route to bars in London Fields, so we ordered a half bucket of Peanut & Chilli Crust fried chicken to go.  While we were waiting we sampled a couple of their interesting bottled beers from Moncada and Kernel, and had a nice chat with the barmen.  They serve a range of £9.00 "Clutchtails" with names like The Sour Grouse and Cackling Goose Cosmo.

Before too long our chicken arrived, with a Roasted Garlic & Creme Fraiche dip on the side, and we were on our way.  It wasn't the easiest thing to eat on a bus, but we enjoyed the jealous glances from fellow travellers.  It was truly delicious and I would highly recommend heading there for a sit down meal.

Peanut & Chilli Crust chicken at Clutch
They also run a very tempting brunch at the weekend (11-3 Sat, 9-3 Sun) with the likes of Dozy Drake (Duck Egg & Caramelized Onion on Sourdough) for £4.50.  

Dozy Drake for brunch at Clutch
Once we had disposed of our takeaway box, we made our way over to Climpson's Arch, a stunning little archway coffee roastery which doubles as a bar and food space near London Fields.  Trust Google Maps as you are sent down a seemingly abandoned road.  The beautiful Christmas tree told us we were in the right place, and we popped inside for some Camden Pale Ale.

Climpson's Arch at Christmas
They often have special food events running (e.g. Licky Chop and Wunderbar East last year) so check ahead before you go, but you are normally able to pop in for just a drink anyway.  Every Thursday in February they will be running a Winter BBQ Supper Club - read more here. Sunday Roast at the Roastery also sounds great.

Climpson's Arch
As we left we were joined by East Londoner Tom who hadn't been to London Fields Brewery, so we walked round the corner to have a quick drink in their cosy tap room.  Read more here from my last visit in July. 

We went for a 3 x 1/3 beer flight with Black Frost Stout, American Black and Shoreditch Triangle IPA - all tasty, but tough to judge after only a 1/3.  They also had a lovely tree, but it was 2nd best to Climpson's Arch.

London Fields Brewery at Christmas
After a bizarre episode with a friendly chap who seemed to think Tim was a doorman for London Fields Brewery, we were back on the road. Next stop: Rita's Bar and Dining

After some hugely popular popups at Birthdays and Feast, Rita's has found a permanent home on Mare Street.  They instantly received some great reviews, including 4 stars from Fay Maschler.  1/2 Fried Chicken with Warm Warm Honey and Sausage Gravy appealed even after a bucket of Clutch chicken, but we were just here for a quick drink on this occasion.  Returning here for food is very high on my to do list.

Photo Credit : Benjamin McMahon

We instead propped up the tiny bar (getting in the way of pretty much everyone) and had a couple of drinks. I went for a moreish Hard Cidre for only £5.50 (Kraken Rum, Cidre Breton, Vanilla, Apple) whilst Tim had a Palermo at £7 (Gran Centenario Plata Tequila, Campari, Grapefruit, House Soda).

We then started working our way through tasters of their top shelf concoctions, including some infused rums (e.g. Cinnamon & Honey, Vanilla) and a deadly bottle of Whiskey infused with very hot pickles which left us all in tears.

With our mouths still burning, we finally made our way to Skylodge, Platterform's latest rooftop residency after the fantastic Skyroom that I was a big fan of last year.  They have temporarily taken over the Hothouse roopftop that Coppa Bar & BBQ inhabited in the summer.  The theme is just about to change (more info on that later), but when we popped in it was a cosy lumberjack lodge.  I was very sad to miss the Thanksgiving launch party which involved chasing a terrifying looking turkey from Broadway Market to the Hothouse.

On arrival, we were warmly greeted by Julian who wasted no time in blowtorching some marshmallows for us.  They haven't wasted an inch of space in the lodge - keep your eyes peeled for Bigfoot's footsteps, a moose head made by the people behind Spitting Image, and some underwear on a tree stump!

To start, we sampled a range of beers from the Strawman Brewery which lives just below the Hothouse. The Amber, Saison and Munich were all equally impressive - I hope to see more of these guys this year.  I also took home a potent Imperial Stout which went down very easily at Christmas.

Strawman Brewery beers

We took our beers for a walk, taking in all the delightful decor.  The cosy snug complete with blankets and a fake fire seemed to be the most popular spot, along with the fun little huts down one side - head to the Lumberjack Love Shack if you dare.  One end had a small stage set up for Campfire Sessions and there was also a projector screen for their Bigfoot Film Club.

We made our way over to the Lumberjack Diner for some "Lumbersnacks" and hot cocktails.  Tasty wings, ribs, sloppy joes and pancakes all disappeared very quickly along with heartwarming drinks with silly names like the Hands-on Gretel.  Special mention must go to Aria for superb service in the diner.

As we were finishing up our food, we were drawn back to the main area by a game of "Moosical Logs" which was being taken very seriously by punters and a couple of Skylodge staff dressed up in Bigfoot / Lion onesies.

Feeling left out, we decided to take part in the (free) Lumberjack Olympics, starting with Pin the Beard on the Lumberjack.  As you can see below, Tom definitely cheated his way to the top in the first discipline.

Next up was "Deer Hunter" darts which Tim narrowly won.  Finally, we took on "Hammer Time" - who can hammer a nail into a tree stump with the fewest hits? Not me, apparently.  In fact, I may well have set the all time record high.  Tom stormed to victory and took the prize, a bottle of Beavertown Brewery's Stingy Jack.

Lumberjack Olympics at Skylodge
As I mentioned though, the Lumberjack theme is making way for a 15 week adventure on the high seas. The space has now been transformed into a Shanty Shack where you expect "Rum Rations", "Captain's Choice" cocktails and "Shanty Shots".  You can book in advance for food here - 4 courses and an after dinner drink for £30.  I'm certain it will be just as much fun as the Skylodge, especially as they are promising "music, drinks and games with the Captain after dinner".  Go and check it out soon before everyone discovers it!

Olympic Champion Tom decided to call it a night, but Tim and I squeezed in one more place before catching the last Overground home.  A speedy bus trip took us to Dalston Junction where we popped into Antic's latest pub, Farr's School of Dancing.  Antic London are responsible for some of my favourite South London pubs - Balham Bowls Club, Effra Social, Hagen & Hyde, Tooting Tram & Social - so I knew what to expect.

Their new site takes its name from a dance school that occupied the building in the late 30s.  At present, there is just one main room, but they plan to open a basement bar and an upstairs kitchen soon.  The décor is kooky as usual - look out for the motorbike hanging from the ceiling.  They had some interesting beers from Clarence & Fredericks which I haven't seen before, plus a couple from Wild Card Brewery.  

Antic have got it right again, this time right in the heart of hipster-land, right opposite Dalston Junction station - expect it to be busy!  

Farr's School of Dancing
Tim picks up a hard earned 5 points and moves up to 5th place on the Team List Leaderboard. Tom gets 3 points but has work to do to make it into the Top 20.

Square Meal

Square Meal

Square Meal

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