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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Leman Street Tavern, Aldgate

In what was once the colourful heart of the old Jewish East End, the pogrom continues unchecked. Championed by a megalomaniac Mayor who has the interests of Brexit Boris, not London or Britain, at the heart of his cold calculating heart; Goodman’s Fields is yet another shining example of the shiny boxy bland ghettoes to greed that are disfiguring our city, robbing it of all originality and charm. At the entrance to this new 'luxury' slum, Geronimo Inns has splashed out a tidy sum on its latest trough and watering hole, Leman Street Tavern. The same £1.5 million would just about buy a banker a pad here - although possibly not one with a view of the equine civic 'art' that announces it. This is a blessing in disguise: two bronze stallions frolicking in a stream are the sort of trashy 70s sculptures only Beverley from Abigail's Party or deranged deceased dictators, the Caesescus, would brook in their front yard's brook. Geronimo Inns' ('a group of proper pubs with an eye for the different and the delicious’) newbie is comfy, colourful and serviceable… but for ‘different’ read 'design-by-numbers after various punchier postmodern bar-brasserie-gastropubs.' ‘Delicious’? That'll be Macon-Lugny on a list that largely sits south of £30 and offers two dozen choices by the glass for sunny day stragglers drawn to a generic pavement terrace  onto a chronically congested A-road. Fill up on bar snacks of black pudding sausage roll, baked Camembert with buttered soldiers, and potato and leek hotpot. Dine on crab gratin followed by pork faggot, greens and mash, with fried milk and poached rhubarb for afters at  LST, the sort of mid-market one-size-fits-all gaff I imagine morning TV Haribore eye candy Susanna Reid might fancy. Me? I'm off to grittier gaffs on nearby polyglot Brick Lane...before the Curse of the Developer destroys it too. 
Goodman’s Fields, Leman Street, E1 8EY 3437 

Paper, Dress, Vintage: Hackney

In Hackney, rummage for 60s frocks, 50s fun furs, flouncy frilly blouses, fawn felt fedoras and fuchsia feather boas and - since there's no way you're ever going to squeeze into those hot heliotrope Biba hot-pants circa Thin Lizzy you just spotted; you might as well squeeze in afternoon tea and cake served on colourful mismatched china that last saw action back in the Black and White Minstrels' black and white telly days. Anytime I revisit retro threads, I'm struck by how skinny we were back in the day before my one-time 27-inch waist was hit by rampant inflation. By night, at this Second-Hand Rose's delight  - recently relocated from Shoreditch - pull on your glad-rags as a funky preloved clothes shop transforms into a bar and social open until 1am at weekends. Her dress rails tidied away, stylish owner Hannah serves classic pre-batched gin, rum, whiskey and vodka cocktails courtesy of Bethnal Green bar, Craft Cocktail Co, as well as a selection of beers by Crate, Hackney and Pressure Drop. Served by a second (microscopic) bar, the upstairs men’s department morphs seamlessly into a live lounge. A small stage hosts rockabilly, soul, blues and swing artistes when the room is not otherwise given over to jive classes, comedy, burlesque, cabaret and drawing classes. There’s even a wee garden in which to model the King's Road dolly bird @ Chelsea Girl halter-dress, serape, sun hat and cats eye shades Ms Moss would kill for. Like serial party animal Kate, Paper, Dress, Vintage has got the London Look.

352A Mare Street E8 1HR 8510 0520 

The Lexington, Islington

Despite being recently tarted-up and rouged - scarlet flock wallpaper, crystal chandeliers and steer head skulls  - this old dame still comes on like a saloon in a seen-better-days cathouse in its spiritual home - Lexington, Kentucky. At its long Rhett Butler-butch bar, choose from around 100 American ryes and small batch bourbons, many of them - George Dickel Barrel Select and Sazerac 20 for instance - rare. Whiskey-based cocktails such as Boulevardier and Red Rye, a Manhattan made with Fernet Branca, are fine at £7 but with Kentucky and the South the theme, I’d like to see the julep jump out in all its juicy variations. Otherwise, there's wine from £18, Goose Island and Anchor Steam and London crafties from the likes of Hammerton and Sambrook’s. New on a menu that includes mixed mezze, and 3 for £6 pile-em-high tacos, is a range of pies - jerk chicken and sweet potato; rabbit, bacon, mushroom and cider ; ‘vegan shepherd’s pie’ etc - served with mash. Even at full capacity, you can hear yourself speak in the main bar. ‘Screaming guitars and thumbing bass’, says the website, are restricted to the club room above; its programme aimed at musos more inclined to Iggy Pop than Simon Cowell-pop. 
96 - 98 Pentonville Road N1 9JB 837