14 July 2021

Dragged Up In Shoreditch

A craze is pulsating through the party kingdom that is Shoreditch. I like to call it ‘Post-Pandemic Drag’. Revellers of all genders, ages, persuasions and backgrounds are flocking to the new hilarious and outrageous drag nights in this jewel of the East End.

‘Not Another Drag Brunch’@The Book Club (100-106 Leonard Street, EC2A 4RH) welcomes you each Saturday in July from 11.30am-4pm.The newly decorated bar will host this event, which brandishes the slogan “F*** the establishment!” If you come dressed to kill, you will be allowed entry. Once there, you can enjoy plenty of raucous entertainment, and a live DJ playing Pop and R’n B. Plus there’s the added perk of bottomless prosecco and all the pizza you can eat!

Fabulous in tight blue PVC, her opulent coiffed red mane brilliantly offsetting her striking violet eyeshadow, Lady Ginger is the perfect figurehead for a new drag night at the Looking Glass Cocktail Club (49, Hackney Rd, E2 7NX). Ginger’s Big Drag Bingo is happening every Friday in July. The promo poster promises all sorts of fun, from “show-stopping lip syncs to sassy dance offs and a whole load of balls!” The plastic numbered kind of ball, you understand. What’s there not to like? Tickets are selling out fast. Partygoers are frequently mesmerised by Lady G’s quick wit and the daring banter she has with the crowd. Throw in copious party anthems and glitzy performances, and Big Drag Bingo is much more than a camp games night. The clever Ginger has expanded her empire by customising and hosting private events for birthday parties, hen do’s or office knees-ups. Email info@partywithginger.com.

An Alice in Wonderland-inspired venue, The Looking Glass is perfect for its other very different drag event, “House of Rouge”. Like Alice, visitors go through the ominous looking glass to enter a quirky and surreal secret room. Taking place on 14th and 15th July and 19th August at 7pm, this is an intriguing immersive show, jam-packed with acts from a new generation of cabaret stars. Comprising drag, burlesque, comedy and some deliciously alternative performances that are impossible to pigeonhole, the show is ablaze with jaw-dropping routines and decadent debauchery. Highlights include the anarchic burlesque of the trio Ménage à Rouge, and the stunning gender fluidity of Sebastian Angelique. Sebastian is a vision in taffeta and chiffon, sporting a blond crop, Mary-Jane high heels and a glitter-laden corset! The Queen of queens has got to be Shakona Fire. With the fierce sassiness and killer curves of Beyoncé, this dancer and artist, who grew up on a North London council estate, humorously tackles the topics of body image and racism. Resplendent with his scarlet lips and nipple tassels, Shakona illuminates the stage.

Not to be missed also is “Kiki: A Drag Cabaret” at Kachette (347 Old Street, EC1V 9LP) on Saturdays at 8pm. At Kiki, revellers are transfixed by ten fabulously crazy and epic performances.

So there we have it: Shoreditch’s latest amazing additions to its already glittering nightlife.

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14 July 2021

Michelin Munchies

Shoreditch has fast become the number one destination for a new wave of discerning diners in 2021. An eclectic mix of Michelin star restaurants with exciting contemporary menus is attracting foodies from far and wide.

The majestic Galvin La Chapelle (in Spitalfields, E1 6DY) never fails to impress locals, tourists and city workers alike. Located in the Grade II listed St Botolph’s Hall, the restaurant’s large arched windows, high stone ceilings and marble columns are a wonderful backdrop to the dining experience. The food can be described as traditional French with a modern twist. “The joy of walking around the market feels almost primordial,” muses owner Jeff Galvin. Ingredients are chosen carefully by his brother David, who visits Covent Garden Market every night to source the freshest, seasonal produce.

There are several sumptuous dishes on offer at Galvin. The lasagne of Dorset crab with beurre Nantais (a velvety buttery sauce cooked with cream and chives) is a firm favourite and costs £22.50. Well worth a try too is the glorious fillet and slow cooked rib of Cumbrian beef, with watercress, potato crumb and alliums (a posh word for onion and garlic!) priced at £44.50. Having received a Gold Award from SquareMeal, where critics praised the ‘undeniable warmth of the room’, Galvin is the first choice for many young professionals, couples, families and larger groups celebrating special occasions.

The Clove Club is East End culinary royalty. Nestled in the ornate former Shoreditch Town Hall (380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT), it offers a mouthwatering menu of ‘modern British’ cuisine.  The buzz around the open blue-tiled kitchen is electric. The highlight is the tasting menu at £145, which must be prepaid for online. Involving seasonal British produce, the dishes are packed with flavour and originality. Presentation is elegant and clean. The seafood is out of this world. Top of the list is the raw Orkney scallop served with hazelnut, clementine and Périgord truffle (the luxurious and superior black kind) – Clove’s most instagrammed dish! The excellence of the cuisine, created by Scottish chef Isaac McHale, has landed Clove in the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list.

Brat (4 Redchurch Street, E1 6JL) is most probably the leader of the pack. “Our fish is wild, native and sustainably caught,” proclaims the menu proudly. The taste is astounding. Irresistible are the oysters roasted with seaweed (£3.50 each). The menu’s crowning glory is the plaice ‘pil-pil’ with clams (£19.50). Pil-pil is a Basque-influenced sauce infused with garlic and bursting with flavour. Brat has managed to accomplish the antithesis of over-engineered ‘cheffy’ cuisine. Every dish is a cleverly composed symphony of ingredients and seasoning. However, it all comes across as beautifully effortless. No wonder Jay Rayner of the Guardian described chef Tomos Parry’s food as ‘the culinary equivalent of an Anthony Hopkins performance.’ Think The Remains of the Day rather than Silence of the Lambs! Understated and stylish nosh.

One thing is undeniable: Shoreditch remains at the very heart of the East London food scene.

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