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Following its 2015 success as a pop-up at Bethnal Green arts hub, Oval Space, Behind This Wall has set up permanent camp in Hackney. The venue, previously a lurid Turkish men’s club, has received a minimalist makeover and is now all white tiles and blond plywood – a judicious move, mitigating against the potentially claustrophobic effect of drinking underground in such a compact space. A dozen wines and local draught ales aside, the bar champions twisted classic cocktails that steer clear of artificial bad stuff. Both the cocktail and food menus are overhauled each season but on our visit, £8 bought a Mezcal Martini made with rosato vermouth and fragranced with rosemary, or a ‘French 75’ that preferred elderflower and rhubarb bitters to the original’s sugar syrup and lemon. Accompanying bar snacks included oysters and Hawaiian poké bowls (spiced tuna, spring onions, soy and sesame). Whatever’s on the menu, you can drink, eat and dance to sharp sounds (being pumped from a system purloined from Joy Division’s producer) at this indie haven below Mare Street.
There are very few bars in the East London area that I haven’t now been to. So when a new bar opens it pretty much goes on the list immediately.Behind This Wall is a new one on Mare Street – but not the end of Mare Street you probably think. It’s up past Hackney Central, not near the bars and restaurants that have sprouted by London Fields. Which might explain why, on a Saturday night when I walked past the first time, there were people outside trying to beckon you in. We had other places to go that night, but I returned about a week later, on a Friday. It wasn’t hugely busy, but it’s also tiny so that’s probably...
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