24th May, 2018

Summer in Shoreditch: Where to Eat, Drink and Play

Cari Thomas

Freelance writer and East London explorer. Unearthing the city’s playful side with a love of anything immersive, especially if it involves food.

Summer is about to arrive in Shoreditch and things are getting all levels of hippie happy.

Meditate at the Sense of Space art installation at Exchange Square. Embrace your inner eco-warrior at the Lost Vegas pop-up on the Queen of Hoxton’s rooftop. Pick up some Turkish street food or fill your soul at The Blues Kitchen’s new soulful whiskey bar.

Eat: Turkish Bagels at Spitalfields Market

Mandira have just opened their second London location in Spitalfields Market. Their flagship Covent Garden store is known for its healthy but wonderfully creamy yoghurt offerings. Their new Spitalfields space has shifted focus to their grab-and-go Simit Turkish bagels. A street food staple in Turkey, simit bread is a lighter, crunchier, sesame-dappled version of the bagel, with a rich depth of flavour. Sourcing high quality ingredients from the UK, Turkey and Greece the menu includes such fillings as halloumi and tomato paste, toasted Turkish pastrami, smoked salmon and ricotta and fig. Grab one alongside a Turkish tea and for pudding there are a delightful selection of yoghurt sweet pots and bio-live smoothies. 

Drink: Moonshine Minnies at Blues Kitchen

Launched just last month Moonshine Minnies is the new speakeasy bar and whiskey den in The Blues Kitchen basement. Moving at a more leisurely pace than the bustling upstairs area, there are high tables and red leather banquette booths to relax at. The higgledy-piggledy rickety décor combines walls lined with Victorian tiles and heavy rope panelling, murals from Portuguese graffiti artist Vhils, and Yorkshire church glass panels on the ceiling which cast kaleidoscopic colours over the room. Cocktails are the star event with a selection of Minnie Whiskey Drinks that aim for good quality, classic cocktails with a twist rather than gimmicks. Keep the evening well-oiled with a Sazerac, a Burnt Pear Old Fashioned, a Scotch Manhattan or a Bourbon Espresso Martini, and if whiskey is not your thing there is a House Drinks menu too. Pair with soulful southern American bar food and a smooth female-only playlist, showcasing the best in R&B over the last 70 years, think Etta James, Janice Joplin and Koko Taylor. 

Play: Queen of Hoxton Rooftop Vegas Bar 

In partnership with Fables Creative (Secret Garden Party, Houghton, El Dorado) this summer the Queen of Hoxton’s rooftop is being transformed into Las Vegas but not as you know it. The year is 2030 and this is Lost Vegas. Forget luxury hotels and casinos, Vegas is now the home of the Trumpageddon survivors who rose up and took over during the 2012 revolt. Nature has reclaimed the old landmarks and eco-warriors and neo-hippies live amidst the ruins of The Strip. The old ways have all but been forgotten… except the partying. That still happens and you’re invited. You can meet Elvis in the overgrown Little Vegas Wedding Chapel, play on the abandoned slot machines, choose something weird from the Lost Vegas vending machines, grab a McVegan burger from an dilapidated yellow school bus bar and celebrate the new world with small-batch, nature-inspired cocktails. Partnering with East London ‘cocktail scientists’ Three Dots, they’ve created cocktails with homemade syrups and infusions, compressed into barrels and ready to serve straight from the tap (single-use plastic cups and straws are so over). In this Mad Max meets Avatar world there’ll also be immersive events from futurism lectures to headphone discos to film screenings. Go big or get lost.