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Friday 6 June 2014

The Arch Dead Doll's Club - 184 Hackney Road - Pizza Union - PortSide Parlour

Three new bars and a quick pizza stop to discuss:

Friday 30th May - Maybe I should just move to Bethnal Green.  I seem to be there on a weekly basis these days for new openings, and there's no end in sight with Craft Cocktail Co. and Sager & Wilde next on the agenda.  This time, I was in the neighbourhood for the opening of The Arch Dead Dolls Club on Cambridge Heath Road.

I assembled a team down the road in Mother Kelly's, who were conveniently having a Siren Brew tap takeover all weekend.  Here I discovered my new favourite beer pun, Yeastus Christ Supersour from To Øl.

After a few cheeky beers, we wandered over to The Arch, the latest site from the dynamic duo of Adam Towner and Kate Gray Rosewarne, who had a temporary Dead Dolls Club in Haggerston, and currently  oversee the wonderful Dolls House in Hoxton Square.

The Arch greets you with a separate mini bar/café that is open daily (Mon-Wed 8am-6pm, Thu-Sat 8am-10pm, Sun - 12pm-10pm), serving up coffees, espresso martinis, and food.  The main bar, that we were aiming for, is open Thu-Sat from 6pm-1am.

So what's waiting for you inside?  

London's biggest disco ball (can someone verify?), a very pink room, 80s hip hop, cocktails, and rotating food traders.  For the next 6 weeks, Check On (who run The Pearl restaurant over at Dolls House) are in charge of the kitchen with their Kentucky Fried Check On chicken shop.  Tasty wings, strips, burgers, buckets and sides til 10pm.

The drinks list was imported from Dolls House for opening weekend, but I would imagine they will have their own list of cocktails up and running soon.  Espresso Martinis & Aviations are a safe bet, but my best drink was an off-menu creation involving Monkey 47 Gin, Cynar, Rosso & Olives.  There are some great gins behind the bar too, Death's Door is well worth a try if you haven't had it before.

The Arch is definitely more of a club than a bar, with loud music playing all night, but most people stayed in their seats or by the bar for the early part of the evening.  I much prefer a late night bar to a club, but that's mostly because clubs tend to have bad drinks, no food, and abysmal music (if it ain't Snarky Puppy, I'm not interested), plus you can't talk to anyone.  But I'm all for a venue that puts more effort in to cocktails, sustenance and good times.  

It looks like Fridays might become live music night at The Arch which is more up my street.  Tonight they have the awesome Kansas Smitty's 8-piece band playing and entry is still free - seriously not one to miss. 

The Arch is another fun hangout from the Dead Dolls team, and a worthy addition to the Bethnal Green food & drink crawl.

We finished our evening with a couple of cocktails at Peg + Patriot which I wrote up last week. Matt Whiley was also behind the bar this time - a dry Cider & Celery Manhattan experiment was a pretty spectacular final drink of the night.

Matt The Route - A perfect Thursday night in Bethnal Green - start at Mother Kelly's with a Yeastus Christ Supersour & a pork pie, pop in to Redchurch Brewery for some fresh Great Eastern IPA on site, drop by Satan's Whiskers for a Sazerac and some taxidermy, head over to The Arch for espresso martinis, fried chicken and a boogie, and finish at Peg + Patriot with a Vesgroni.  


Tuesday June 3rd - I'm going to soldier on with some more East London recommendations after two more top bars opened over that side of town this week.  Tuesday night actually began in Soho with a swift half at The Lyric (impressive beer selection) and then Clockjack Oven who were launching a new express lunch menu (see more on Matt The Tumblr).  After filling up there, Andy and I sped over to Hackney Road where we were joined by Maria who had smugly cycled all the way over - she would regret this later.

The new joint in our sights on this occasion was 184 Hackney Road, the latest bar to take on the funky little space under the Golden Grill kebab shop on Hackney Road.  Both previous tenants were popular but temporary - first the boozy Quiquiriqui Mezcaleria (owner Melanie Symonds is involved again here) and then the cheap and cheerful Liquor Cabinet.

This time Melanie and her awesome range of mezcals are joined by the Stagg & Barber bar and events duo who are in charge of cocktails.  They have also impressively brought down some fresh casks of high quality cider & beer, which is really rare in a bar environment.

We started off with a round of moreish but deadly mezcal slushies, topped with chilli worm salt.  Meanwhile, mezcal boilermakers with Hobo beers were piling up on other tables.

Mezcal slushies

Melanie, Stagg & Barber

After a couple of slushies & the odd drop of tequila, we moved on to some Stagg & Barber concoctions, opting for The Count (a Negroni twist with Quiquiriqui mezcal, Campari, Aperol & Cocchi Vermouth di Torino with orange bitters) and 40 Pieces of DeSilva (rye whiskey, velvet falernum, laphroaig, peppermint tea gomme, bitters, topped with soda) - both excellent but very distinct so a little odd when sampled next to one another.  I was eyeing up The Count too, but in the interest of research decided to go off menu much to Stagg's delight - the results of that are a story for another time.

The Count and a Negroni

Adding to the lively dive bar feel is a darts board (dangerous after too many mezcal slushies) and a colourful pinball machine which was a bargain 10p a go when we went along.

184 Hackney Road is set to be a huge success, and things could get even more exciting if Melanie manages to set up something along the lines of a taqueria upstairs, which will start to put it in the same league as Candeleria, one of my favourite spots on Paris.  Head over there Tue-Sun 5pm-late asap!


Wednesday 4th June - Right, nearly there.  This time, I started off nearer Liverpool Street with the latter half of Anspach & Hobday.  We strode past the hoardes of beer swigging bankers to a peaceful Sandy's Row for a superfast 12" pizza or two from Pizza Union.

Open 11am-11pm everyday, these guys cook up tasty pizzas in 3 minutes in their stone pizza oven, starting at £3.95 for a Margherita which is pretty ridiculous.   £6.50 is expensive as it gets, and we went for a Stagioni & Carne for maximum meat.  Order at the counter, wait for your buzzer to vibrate, and collect your prize - simple, cheap & effective!

We chucked in a couple of Peronis, some olives and two healthy Dolce Dough Rings (stuffed with nutella & mascarpone - only £2.95!), but the pizzas are definitely big enough to fill you up.  It must be absolutely heaving with city types at lunch (and apparently it gets rather busy after everyone has had a couple of pints at 9pm-ish), but we seemed to time it just right when we had most of the restaurant floor to ourselves.  It's a great place to know about if you are looking for an affordable pit stop around Spitalfields.

After all the dough, we took a much needed walk up Shoreditch High Street before veering off left down Rivington Street to check out the new PortSide Parlour rum bar & kitchen.  

The bar is tucked away behind a nautical shop front, though it's not nearly as hidden as their last site in Broadway Market which got all the journos excited last year - you had to pull on a toilet chain to open the door to their basement bar beneath Off Broadway.

The last time I saw the owners was at their PortSide Cabana rum shack popup at Netil Market last summer.  We made quite an impression then by breaking a deck chair and getting stung by a wasp before midday, so I wasn't surprised when they recognised me.  

Jack and I shuffled off in to a corner and perused their attractive cocktail menu whilst tucking into another plate of olives.

We started with a deadly Grace Jones which was laced with Smith & Cross Navy Strength Rum (57%), before moving on to a delicious Lost in The Woods - effectively a Rum Old Fashioned which went down very easily.

Lost in The Woods
After a couple of refreshing & fruity bottles of Kernel IPA, we switched to some seats at the bar (always preferable) and went back on to the cocktails, opting for two longer drinks (we did this the wrong way round didn't we?).  Jack enjoyed his triple rum Autopilot, whilst I controversially went for a mezcal & gin based Lawnmower Sling which I could drink all night long.


Aside from the top notch cocktails, they have pulled off quite a coup by getting hold of a chef fresh from a stint at Petersham Nurseries to serve up some small plates to match the drinks.  If the stinging nettles & goats cheese croquettes (with quince aioli) and fried whitebait (with Ocho Tequila aioli) are anything to go by, there might soon be quite a buzz about the PortSide Parlour food offering.  Hopefully I'll head back soon to check it out.

Sample Menu
Another fun East London bar - grab a seat in front of the bartenders and enjoy!


Square Meal

Pizza Union on Urbanspoon

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