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Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Wenlock and Essex, Islington

The name, The Wenlock and Essex , refers to this new bar/ diner’s location on Essex Road by Regent Canal’s Wenlock basin, lest you imagine it’s geared to white stiletto wearers and iffy one-eyed Olympic mascots. New, from the crew behind Hoxton’s Electricity Showrooms, its clientele is a pick’n’mix bag of early-Lily Allen clones, lardy geez-ahs who shouldn’t be wearing cut-off cargos and ‘wasn’t-he-once-in-The Kooks?’ indie runts. Formerly The Living Room, the Manchester-based smart/casual chain that never quite ‘got’ Islington, its interior mixes Edwardian fairground with JD Wetherspoon  circa 1990, had it only decided to go slightly upmarket. Top of the frothy tops are Camden Pale Ale and West Country hoppy bunny, Wild Hare, and there’s pocket-friendly vino and Margarita, Mai Tai and Manhattan at £7. To our left, two of the girthy geezahs, who we nickname Pork Scratching seem to have developed a bad case of jock itch. Their constant groin rubbing is putting me off ordering food which, as it transpires, would have been no great loss. From a reasonably priced brunch-to-late menu, my lamb meatballs’ stupidly, incendiary tomato and chili sauce nearly blows my bonce off while mate’s venison pie is not exactly game on. Blah-di-bland. Anyway, what we’re really here for, is Satan’s Circus. Through swing doors beyond the bar, lies a tacky pastiche of a 1980s nightclub. All mirrored ceiling and flashing neons depicting a Linda Lovelace tribute liberating her silicone 40 DDs, it’s six shiny poles short of Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls. Sexploitation movie sets and a Dirk Diggler light-up dance floor? In Islington? Guardian-reading feminists will choke on their organic polenta.     
18- 26 Essex Road N1 7704 0871