This down-to-earth bar located near Shoreditch and The City offers a wide range of food and drink, an informal, friendly atmosphere and table football.
Bar Kick can be found opposite St Leonards Church on Shoreditch High Street. Located on the main street, it can usually be identified by the crowd of customers gathered in the sheltered outdoor area on the pavement.
Entering the front door of Bar Kick, the first thing that catches the eye are the three table football units lining the left hand wall, usually manned by several competitive players. Attached to the off-white wall above these are several widescreen TVs showing all manner of sport, and a variety of frames and posters showcasing sporting memorabilia and leaflets – look out for the life-sized table football player solemnly overlooking the bar. The ceiling itself is covered by dozens of flags from around the world, blown around by the old fashioned ceiling fans that protrude here and there, keeping the place cool.
There are a great number of tables, chairs and worn-in brown leather sofas between the concrete pillars near the entrance, but the venue appears to have fallen victim of its own success, and many customers have to make do with standing on the rough wooden floor. Making your way through the crowd to the other side of the room, you'll come across the dining area, made up of rather simplistic furniture and quaint tableware. Lit by candlelight or antique red lamps, tables can be arranged to accommodate large groups and couples looking for an intimate meal. They are located directly adjacent to an open-front kitchen, whose old-fashioned kiln, colourful counter and displayed ingredients and utensils lend it the welcoming, homely feel of a cantina.
The bar is on the right-hand side towards the back of the main room, reveals a dazzling array of bottles in front of a backdrop of low-level lighting and vast swathes of clear fabric. Strategically-placed pineapples and larger-than-life inflatable Corona bottles provide pleasantly unexpected touches. To the right of the entrance is a tiered wooden staircase that leads to the basement, a slightly smaller space that continues the aesthetic of the main room: sofas and armchairs line the walls, painted concrete columns divide up the space, and three tables have been set up near a second, smaller bar to accommodate customers. After the elaborate decoration of the main room, the basement can feel slightly underdeveloped in places, especially the bare back wall and fire escape. But there are still plenty of flags, TVs and, most importantly, table football tables to grab the eye.
Although relatively quiet during the day, the bar usually fills up by the time rush hour rolls around, and Bar Kick regularly plays host to a number of events. These are scheduled erratically, but regular events include comedy nights in the basement, featuring some of the UK's most promising talent, and intense table football tournaments.
The bar’s client base represents an accurate cross-section of Shoreditch party goers and off duty City workers, and despite the crowded conditions, the prevalent mood is one of letting go and relaxing in a friendly, informal atmosphere. As well as the camaraderie that develops from the table football matches (far more rewarding than merely watching football on the big screen), the low lighting and quirky decor are all conducive to a fun night out. The youthful bar and waiting staff clearly enjoy their work, and are friendly and prompt with their service.
During the day, the bar offers an ever-changing selection of lunch specials at affordable prices (£4.50-£6), as well as inventive spreads like the Kick Platter (£8.50), consisting of deliciously moist goat cheese, cured meat and olives, or side dishes such as chorizo sausage marinaded in red wine (£4.50). The more substantial meals on offer are certainly filling – take the steak sandwich (£7.95), juicy and full of flavour in a warm baguette with sauteed onions and remoulade on the side.
They can also be refined; for instance, the savoury and instantly addictive ravioli (£9.95) stuffed with wild mushrooms and Compte cheese. If you're looking for something more exotic, try some grilled haloumi (£7.95) hot out of the kitchen, accompanied with thinly-sliced Lebanese cucumber, sesame bread and tahini yoghurt. The meals are accompanied by authentic crusty Italian bread and, more often than not, doused in olive oil from Southern Spain. Desserts are thin on the ground, but the fondant au chocolat with raspberry coulis (£4.95) is a small but an overwhelming dose of melted chocolate excess.
The two bars at your disposal offer a vast selection of drinks at reasonable prices - the martinis alone take up a whole page on the menu. As well as the classics, Bar Kick has a large number of unconventional nuanced cocktails, most of which seem to be house secrets and usually incorporate the elusively-named ‘Kick mix’.
The light and refreshing Basil Grande (£6.95) is presented in an attractive tall glass - torn basil leaves and fresh strawberries are mixed vigorously with raspberry liqueur, Stoli vodka, Grand Marnier and a dash of cranberry juice – a well-balanced, summery proposition. The Sicilian Sour (£6.95) should appeal to sweet 'n’ sour aficionados with its heady mix of Amaretto, apricot brandy and sours all lovingly garnished and impeccably presented. Those with more of a sweet tooth might want to try the Honey Bunny (£6.95), a house speciality blending shavings of ginger, Woods rum and ginger beer with a dash of honey, or perhaps a Maple Old Fashioned (£6.95), a small but dense offering of Bourbon and crushed ice offset magnificently by maple syrup and an orange twist. Here is a bar that definitely caters to the adventurous.
If you're not in the mood for refinement, you'll be pleased to hear that the bar also stocks a bewildering array of liqueurs, spirits and whiskeys, as well as bottled beer (£2.90-£4.50) from the four corners of the world (nothing on draught, though). There are plenty of established brands imported from Iberia and the Benelux, whilst Cusquena from Peru is a particularly obscure favourite. The wine list is equally extensive, with an impressive cellar of red, white, rose, cava and Champagne rounding out the drinks menu. These are available by the glass or the bottle, with prices ranging from £12.75 for a very passable house red. Of particular note is the delightfully fruity Terre de Ministral Cotes du Rhone at £19 a bottle, and the extremely popular Gremillet Brut Champagne, which is a steal at £7.50 a glass.
The Last Word
In keeping with, and perhaps because of, its location at the crossroads between The City and Shoreditch, Bar Kick is an informally decorated, feel-good bar that nonetheless offers flawless service and great food and drink.