19 June 2024

The Power of Light

In Shoreditch, a Victorian power station, built in 1893, is giving light once again. Inside this iconic building, you will discover the stylish, newly restored interior of The Light Bar. It is stunning, with its period features, gigantic imposing windows and lofty ceilings, while the furnishings are sleek and modern. This restaurant and cocktail bar, set across three floors, has been impressing the critics in 2021, ever since it re-opened in May.

The food comes courtesy of the self-effacing chef Johnnie Collins. One might be tempted to stifle a yawn, when he starts talking about sustainability, but actually his enthusiasm is infectious. He grows much of his produce in his kitchen garden at home in Warwickshire, where he also sources local farms, thus creating the farm-to-table experience for his diners. Entirely self-taught, Johnnie grew up in the English countryside and started his career by making sandwiches using ingredients from his mum and dad’s garden! During a recent stint on the show Sunday Brunch, Johnnie chattered happily about what he was cooking: “…whipped feta from Kent, made the Persian way with oil, not brine like the Greek kind.” Gentle and well-spoken he refers affectionately to his ‘lovely red onions’ which he will ‘pickle very quickly’, his ‘nasturtiums’ and ‘a bit of lovage from the garden.’ This gent knows his stuff and he delicately builds a great dish. “No chemicals – I know what’s gone into it,” he states proudly. One could say he’s the mad professor of the culinary realm. He recounts taking seeds from some tomatoes in Andalusia, germinating them then taking them in a suitcase on the train to plant in his greenhouse!

The Light Bar’s slogan is ‘modern British food using seasonal produce from local suppliers.’ However, it is much more than that. I urge you to try the Palourde clams, fresh peas and samphire, or the burrata, nectarine and lovage. If you like your pork spicy, you must sample the nduja, honey, ricotta and potato sourdough.

And now something for the power station anoraks: This landmark building was formerly known as the Great Eastern Electric Light Generating Station. A bit of a mouthful – how apt for a restaurant! It played a pioneering role, being the first of its kind to light up Shoreditch. Johnnie’s restaurant can now adopt the station’s original motto: ‘More Light, More Power.’

You can find The Light Bar at:

233 Shoreditch High Street,

E1 6PJ


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