With its endless creativity and open-mindedness, Shoreditch is the one place in London where your inner kid can be truly unleashed. From ball pits and bowling to bowls of cereal it is truly an adult playground, with the added bonus of cocktails.
Nothing truly plucks at the strings of nostalgia quite like a ball pit. The urge to fling yourself into one remains as strong as ever – we’re just no longer allowed to do so. Thank goodness then for Ballie Ballerson. Located on Shoreditch’s Curtain Road, the bar offers one million balls of judgement-free pure joy to dive into. There’s a vast glow in the dark UV ball pit covered with a 70m glowing mural, plus two private pits including one facing out onto the street for those who prefer to play with their balls more openly. The evening is rounded off with a menu of retro sweet-inspired cocktails including a Skittle Sour and a Dibbie Dabberson, served up with a Dib Dab on the side. There are also pizzas and DJs pumping tunes and throwing balls into the night.
We can’t discuss childhood fun and not include a bowling alley. Megabowl was once the mecca of all birthday parties. Fortunately this adult version is even more fun and a lot less sticky. The 50s American diner themed All Star Lanes on Brick Lane offers the full strike: bowling, cocktails, American food, country music karaoke and dancing. The shoes they give you are in much better nick too. Rent out a few lanes with your friends and order some cocktails and feel-good food on the side with options that include buttermilk fried chicken, corn-dipped Mississippi fish finger sandwiches, chargrilled chuck steak and rib beef burgers with treacle-cured bacon and three-cheese mac and cheese. You can also rent out their penthouse space which can host between 30 and 130, and includes a bar, three private bowling lanes, a Wii and karaoke.
Food fights were the fuel of childhood but appear to be banned in most London Restaurants. Fortunately raucous restaurant Rascals conveniently comes with London’s first waterproof dining room. Book out the room with a group of friends and you can feast and fight with water pistols, a gunge chair, scratch cards and pie throwing. The food however is no child’s play, but a sumptuous offering including creamy, pesto drizzled burrata, very sticky pig belly with pickles and fennel, whole hake with squid ink, beef chuck triple cooked chips smothered in bernaise and extremely messy Eton Mess. Rascals is also known for its legendary bottomless brunch. Unlimited prosecco, Bucks Fizz and Espresso Martinis are combined with an outrageously good brunch menu alongside rowdy games including Wheel of Certain Misfortune and a giant card game of Higher or Lower. The afternoon is led by world famous Ginger Flap’page who will end up shaming those who aren’t misbehaving quite enough by forcing them into the wooden stocks.
Worship Street’s Flight Club takes the long-standing tradition of pub darts and inserts them into a hipster certified setting. For one thing it doesn’t look like your ordinary pub, it’s more English-country-manor-meets-urban-warehouse with some fairground randomness thrown in. Book out your own area for the evening with sofas and personal dart boards. The old scorekeeping has been replaced by digital screens so you don’t have to keep track of anything except your drinks orders. Drinks and food are brought to you while you play with a range of craft beer and cocktails and food that’s easy to munch on while you play, including pizza paddles, burgers and buttermilk-fried chicken. In all areas, it hits the target.
Forget all other food groups, cereal was and still is the sustenance of child’s play. Introducing Brick Lane’s Cereal Cafe where the cereal tastes like memories. Themed around a brightly-coloured 90s bedroom, the chairs are beds and the walls are decorated with vintage cereal boxes and toys, while Nickelodeon tunes play in the background. The sugar-coated menu offers almost every cereal you could imagine with 120 varieties on offer from British classics and American favourites to global selections you may never have heard of. Think traditional favourites such as Lucky Charms and Golden Nuggets, or Oreo O’s all the way from Korea and Karat from Israel. Then just add milk. With a rainbow spectrum of flavours on offer – and a sprinkle of toppings including 100s and 1000s, Maltesers, Milky Way Stars, Party Rings and Rolos – the fun never stops. There are also Pop-Tarts, toast and spreads, cakes, hot drinks and a cocktail menu that includes cereal inspired mixes including Honey I Shrunk the Bear and Unicorn Poop…