32 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3LX , United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7749 0478
Website: Not supplied
Hours: Midday- 11pm Daily
Door: Go early
Style: Restaurant bar
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: High-end
Food: Full menu
Images By: diffordsguide.com
You kinda know when a new bar or restaurant is going to be a hit when a succession of passers-by press their faces up against the glass to see what's going on inside. That's exactly the case at Mark Hix's new restaurant in Shoreditch, housed in a Grade-2 listed electricity generating facility for the Tramway System built in 1905. And where Mark's long-term collaborator Nick Strangeway is in charge of the drinks.
The cathedral-like space is presided over by a Damien Hirst pickled cow being ridden by a pickled cockerel, which sums up the food menu - chicken or steak. There are other Hirsts dotted around the place which continue the theme, including a large colourful painting of the Cow & Chicken cartoon characters. Over at the bar - by the way, you'll still have to eat something as it's a condition of the licence - the first choice on the cocktail list also evokes the culinary theme. The Cock Shot combines vodka, chicken consomme, chipotle pepper sauce and Tabasco. Shaken with ice it makes for a surprisingly clean sipping shot that comes with a remarkably roast chickeny finish.
There's more equally [mildly] amusing word-play in the drinks' names: the cider brandy, gin and apricot brandy Shipfaced is one of several bottled cocktails available (in line with Strangeway's new-found chef-like discipline and a doctrine of cocktail consistency via carefully made pre-mixes - there's also a bottled Zombie and Negroni); Twitter & Bisted is one of three sparkling cocktails and mixes pink grapefruit, Campari and PX sherry; while the Temperley Mo-Tea-To (Somerset Cider Brandy, peppermint tea, apple juice and lime) comes from the long drinks line-up.
The list boasts enough home-grown ingredients to demonstrate they've deliberately cherry-picked English products without being a slave to the locally sourced movement. Overall, although there are enough classics to keep it grounded, the choice articulates Nick's creativity and sound judgment in matching flavours: tequila with beetroot, pomegranate and chipotle; rye with lemon juice, marmalade and tea, say. The drinks we tried were all well-balanced, delivered by friendly, welcoming staff, just the right side of chatty. A carefully chosen all-UK selection of bottled craft beer, cider and perry and a larger wine list make up the rest of the drinks list.
Like we said, you've got to eat here too. Bar snacks include chicken hearts, ox cheeks, chicken livers and quail - all tasty no doubt - we went with quail and farm-fresh radishes - but esoteric enough to keep the bridge-and-tunnel crowd that populates Shoreditch at the weekend at bay.