I have been finding myself east of the City quite often of late, perhaps a sign of a sort or simply because Hackney happens to be one of the coolest parts of town right now.
Stepping through the rather ordinary doorway to Behind This Wall on Hackney’s Mare Street, down a few steep stairs, we were immediately transported from a busy East London street to a minimalistic oasis.
My friend and I entered the busy bar, which occupied a simple space, scarcely filled with Scandinavian and Japanese style furnishings. As we sat down and pondered over the interesting looking menu, we watched the bartenders as they vigorously shook and mixed and stirred some of their new cocktail offerings. The bar top was lined up with fresh herbs and spices, with freshly cut flowers and art on walls further complementing the ambience.
Behind This Wall launched a new cocktail and oyster menu to celebrate all things autumn, and it was buzzing with eager looking crowd. The menu was cleverly devised by the bar’s co-founder, chef and head bartender Alex Harris, formerly of The Ritz and Soho House Group. Alex is a supporter of raw eating, a principle he thoroughly applied to the new menu.
The new drinks list is an explosion of flavours and imagination. With ingredients such egg white, cream and oysters, I wasn’t sure whether we will be eating it or drinking it. Turned out – it was both. This culinary experience combines and celebrates the aromas, flavours and colours of India and New England. The food menu, created in the same tone, complemented the drinks nicely. Whilst sipping on a cocktail, make sure to dig into some oysters (there is a £1 oyster happy hour every day between 7pm an d8pm), chilli-roasted cashew nuts or lime-pickled onions on rye bread.
The best way I could describe the innovative menu, both drinks and food, would be a comparison to Willy Wonka doing what he did best, but savoury. The creations are perfect for the inevitable approach of the colder months, with powerful spices and unusual combinations guaranteed to warm up.
The drinks on offer are split into four sections -‘aperitifs’, ‘digestives’, ‘highball’ and ‘pousse-cafes’, enhancing the experience and acting as a guide throughout the night.
We did manage to dip into each section and thoroughly enjoyed ‘Uncle Buck’, ‘Salem Witch Reviver’, ‘Ike’s G & T’ and ‘2nd Amendment’.
We couldn’t leave without sharing one ‘Hail Mary’ – a blend of scotch, clam chowder oyster, garam masala extract, Chesapeake seasoning, tomato, beetroot and celery juice, pickle juice, topped up with lemon sea foam and timut pepper. It was rich and spicy, and surprisingly very moreish.
If friendly staff, relaxed atmosphere and devilishly good cocktails to steer away the cold winter nights are what you are after, then look no further than Behind This Wall.You’ll be leaving satisfied – if not a little merry.
- Behind This Wall is located on 411 Mare Street, London E8 1HY; nearest stations are Hackney Central and Hackney Downs. During the autumn months, seasonally dressed oysters from BTW’s raw bar snack menu are £1 each between 6pm-8pm. Autumnal delights from Behind This Wall’s creative menu are also available to sample as a tasting menu; For more information visit www.behindthiswall.com