With the recent arrival of the Ace Hotel in London’s Shoreditch, the 'hood's hipster transformation is officially complete and the cool kids are drifting further east in search of the city's hippest haunts. Cue Dalston, an edgy east end enclave where basements, railway arches and disused factories are being transformed into subterranean drinking dens and experimental eateries. Sara D'Souza checks out the area's hottest spots.
76 Stoke Newington Road
This subterranean drinking den was born out of the former kitchen of a Chinese restaurant and turned into an intimate little spot that’s perfect for a nightcap (or two). Cunningly disguised as a cinema, well-worn stairs lead down to what feels like a cozy living room (stripped floorboards, exposed brickwork, mismatched chairs, vintage lampshades), where a team of skilled cocktail makers and shakers serve the likes of fresh blackberry and mint mojitos with El Dorado three-year-old rum served in a 1940’s milk bottle. Not a cocktail fan? Sink a pint of local Redchurch Ale instead.
182 Stoke Newington Road
On the border of (equally trendy) Stoke Newington, Dalston’s Oui Madame! is a chic, bijoux dining room whose sultry style couldn’t be more typically French if it tried. Sip champagne and dine on artichoke fries and mussels in flickering candlelight before descending into the dimly lit basement for a bit of late night music in the club. At the moment it hosts live bands and cabaret but they’re looking to introduce some burlesque acts. Ooh la la.
109 Mortimer Road
You can’t visit Dalston without scoping out a proper east end boozer and on the corner of Mortimer Road and Englefield Road, the Talbot is just the ticket. This handsome Victorian pub has outdoor seating for the warmer months and worn shabby sofas inside for when the leaves start to drop. Rock up on a Sunday afternoon for a traditional roast dinner and pair with a drink from the carefully curated menu; they rustle up a pretty mean Bloody Mary.
Jones & Sons
23-27 Arcola Street
In a converted Victorian textile factory where the Arcola Theatre once stood (it’s since moved to nearby Ashwin Street), Jones & Sons is Dalston’s latest gastronomic offering. An impressive 12-foot white and stainless steel open kitchen now takes center stage and the Scandinavian-influenced interiors provide the drama. The floor is a mix of hand-poured concrete and resin, exposed marine lamps hang from the ceilings and a 17-foot chunk of Cararra marble tops the oak bar. The menu celebrates local produce from the steaks sourced from Well Street butchers to the London brewed Meantime ales.
33-35 Stoke Newington Road
The West End may now be home to burger giants, Five Guys and Shake Shack, but we're sating our meat cravings out east at Psychic Burger. In a coveted spot on the ground floor of Birthdays (Dalston’s music venue of the moment), Psychic Burger dishes up towering patties of chuck steak and hunks of cheese between pillow-soft brioche buns. Add pork skin popcorn, a side order of Psychic sauce and a well-shaken negroni to round out the Dalston diner experience.
397-400 Geffrye Street
Occupying three cavernous railway arches, Beagle is a sceney restaurant that serves back-to-basics British grub cooked up with Dalston flair. The floor is made from reclaimed railway sleepers and the masculine design (brushed blackened steel, exposed brickwork) is softened by candles aplenty. Tuck into chargrilled steak with duck fat chips from the open kitchen and pair with a bloody mary made with chorizo-infused vodka. There's an intimate terrace for alfresco hipster spotting.