"Simples, Alexsandr?" In the new Shangri-La Hotel's ground floor foyer, our reservations are checked on two bit...
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Hoi Polloi, Shoreditch
Hoi Polloi, the latest on-the-moolah beaux peeps magnet from Bistrotheque / Shrimpy’s Pablo Flack and David Waddington, has a wee cocktail bar in one corner for those not booking into the all day-brasserie. Tasty Festival of Britain decor suggests a1950s holiday camp; while the drinks menu references another strand of camp also prevalent in that decade: ‘polari.' A rich patois that appropriated many Yiddish terms, polari was used in public by gay men. Impenetrable to others, it was necessary lest their saltier observations betray their sexuality, leaving them open to attack, blackmail or arrest in the days before homosexuality was decriminalised.The old loingo has been enjoying a bit of a revival while other polari words have entered our language. 'Naff', for example, is an acronym that originally stood for 'not available for fucking', as in 'straight, ergo undesirable. Examples here include ‘omi-polone’(an effeminate man) - a Buffalo Trace and port sour (£9); ‘riah shusher’ (hairdresser) - a rhubarb and vanilla Tapatio blanco mule; and Sipsmith sloe gin and ginger wine fix, 'bijou basket' - tasty tackle to wrap your laughing gear around. I suggest a new cocktail called 'a cottage loaf'. Co-owner Dolly Waders, salty stick that he is, instantly catches on, where others are bamboozled. "Cottage loaf as in bread, or hair buns?" asks my 30-something friend Laura. "No dear" I say, in my best Kenneth Williams nasal whine, "more bread for hairy buns - as offered up by dolly Dilly boys to johns cruising in Soho khazis... vada?" Laura the innocent is still none the wiser. Not-so-queer beers include two from Beavertown (that’s not a polari term, rather the Hackney microbrewer); there's wine from £4, and snacks of pickled onion rings and salt cod paste, chickpea fritters with tarragon yoghurt dip, or ‘puffy scratchings.' The latter may or may not be code for risky risqué retro couplings. Either way, Hoi Polloi is a Round The Horney hang-out, and a club bar due to launch downstairs is to be 'a bit like the Joiners Arms' ( a nearby Hackney homo haunt) Oooh, er!