Sights of Shoreditch – Beagle Bar:
Ostensibly the purpose of our visit was to check out the newly opened Beagle, right by Hoxton station. Achingly cool this is what those of us who live to the West of London imagine East London should be about. Although we expect grunge, street art and angst – and Beagle really doesn’t come with grunge.
There’s a great outside space, but it wasn’t quite warm enough last week, so we found ourselves a table in the bar area and sat down to enjoy bar snacks and cocktails. From the excellent list of contemporary cocktails we chose two long drinks – a Hoxton fizz with vodka, cucumber, lemon juice and elderflower and Master Grey with blanco tequila, earl grey, lemon and orange juice and marmalade. The Hoxton fizz was my favourite – wonderfully light and fresh and I’d have happily drank more of these. At £8 per cocktail, it wouldn’t have been hard to do so either.
We’d intended eating from the bar menu, but it appeared there were only four options – and my pescatorian friend couldn’t eat two of those. So, he nibbled on cods roe while I enjoyed a beef brisket with pickled red cabbage and we shared a plate of peppers.
I’m not sure whether Beagle has changed the bar menu or if it is normally longer (as shown on the website) and we picked a bad night to visit, but it appeared that if you wanted to eat a full meal you would need to sit in the restaurant. Not a bad option, there’s a short but delicious sounding range of items including wild black bream, spit roast chicken and ricotta and wild garlic gnocchi.
After a dessert cocktail which was something like a frothy lemon tiramisu, we left to wander round Hoxton a bit. Kind of West meets East sightseeing!
The Geffrye museum is now firmly on my list of places to visit. It isn’t open in the evenings, but apparently has a stunning range of collections to show how homes have been used and furnished over the past 400 years. It sounds fascinating and the building itself is beautiful.
Further on, along Kingsland Road is apparently known as the ‘Pho mile’. Still hungry after our bar snacks we stopped in the first Vietnamese café we found and ordered a large bowl of Pho each. And, in my case, planned to return and find out more about Pho and the other dishes of Vietnam.
Leaving the café, we wandered back towards Hoxton station to hear music. And, then made our way over to the railway arch it was coming from. Groups of Vietnamese guys were sitting on the floor chatting, the walls were lined with a collection of fabulous photography and a small instrumental group was playing in the corner. Someone walked over to us.
We open tomorrow – right now we are setting up.
Too bad we thought, but they let us stay and take a look around. It turned out that the photography was the collection of a former British diplomat in Vietnam, John Ramsden. I feel truly privileged to have been given the chance to see the photos. And rather guilty because I’d intended posting about it on London-Unattached so readers could go for themselves anticipated that the exhibition would be on display for a month or so, whereas it actually ran for just 3 days! If you’d like to find out more about the photos of John Ramsden do watch the you tube video and check out the website to see some of the photos that were being exhibited.
So, would I recommend Beagle Bar – yes if you are in the area, perhaps not as a destination venue. But it’s still all happening in Hoxton, so well worth a visit, if only to pop into the Geffrye Museum, grab a cocktail at Beagle Bar and then wander off for Pho.
PS: We were invited to review the bar menu and cocktails at Beagle
397-399 Geffrye Street