Far Rockaway takes its name from the famous resort in Queens, New York. Prepare yourself for sensory overload at this Shoreditch hangout that is every bit as bold and brash as the New York theme would lead you to believe.
First off, it’s huge. Far Rockaway is the Big Apple indeed. The 400-capacity venue spreads itself across three large rooms, which in turn have their own offshoot lounges, raised platforms and darkened - well, lit by neon - corners. Secondly, it’s about as in your face as it gets. The bar and restaurant honours American street culture at every turn, with skateboard decks fixed to the walls and ceiling, American football statuettes, neon lights from the likes of Brooklyn Brewery and US skate brand DC Shoes... the list is endless. If that wasn’t assault enough on the senses, Far Rockaway also displays some of the very best street art – very appropriate for its east London location – commissioned in portraits, on tables, pillars and walls and even all over the toilets. Everywhere you look you’ll find something new to focus on by world graffiti artists as famed as David Shillinglaw, Wreckage Interntaional, Cranio and Guy Denning, all curated by Ben Oakley and Kevin Martin Hoxton galleries. Placed on Curtain Road and opposite established nightspots Bar Music Hall and Hoxton Pony, Far Rockaway suits its location to a tee.
With so much to take in, most people look fairly dazzled as they arrive at the bar, thrown by so many options for where to sit. Luckily, friendly and very down-to-earth staff help you settle in, and a variety of stools and sofas are so comfy you can happily settle in for a session just as easily as you can sit in the canteen-style area for a bite to eat – and the American fast food smells particularly tempting. If you’re not taken with the street art or the party vibe, you can feast your eyes on a whopping library of DC and Marvel comics, shelved along one wall – with over 4000 to peruse, this is a geek’s paradise. To complete the theme, expect to hear Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Nirvana and Rum DMC on the Funktion 1 sound system. Resident DJ Dom Chung will be playing out funk on a Friday, alongside other DJ bookings across the weekend. All in all, Far Rockaway’s vibe is easy-going Americana and you’re bound to find it hard to leave since it caters for an all-day party. And despite its size, it fills up fairly rapidly with excited revellers.
There won’t be any disappointment when you cast your eyes over a menu of big eats the Big Apple would be proud of. Italo-American cuisine is represented in Staten Island pizzas (£11 each) or chicken Milanese (£14) while the South American influence is found in empanadas served with guacamole (£7). And of course there are Buffalo wings, meatball subs (£8), hotdogs (£8) and several burger options, including a fried chicken burger with red chilli jam (£11). A double chocolate brownie (£6) or a baked vanilla bourbon cheesecake (£6) round off a killer menu that could be found anywhere Stateside.
An on-trend drinks list completes an all-American line-up. Brooklyn beers are on draught for £4.75 a pint, a price that reminds you you’re in the heart of Shoreditch. You also pay a premium for bottled craft beers for the USA, but the selection is good – Sierra Nevada, Goose Island, Dixie, Blue Moon and Flying Dog are all represented alongside Brooklyn Brewery.
Even more on trend are the cocktails on tap, with a couple of drinks pre-batched the night before ready for the next day’s service. You’ll find a super-sweet Pornstar – vanilla vodka, passion fruit, Passoa, and Prosecco – or a spicy red pepper and vodka creation, Hot Bitch, on draught for £7 each, and despite being pre-made there’s no compromise on flavour. Slightly more expensive are cocktails made to order such as the Peanut Butter Cup (£9) garnished with the Reese’s snack of the same name or frozen cocktails like a creamy, frothy and utterly indulgent Lemon Sherbet (£9), comprising Tanqueray gin, lemon, sugar and cream. Frozen Margaritas in several flavours also go down a storm.
The Last Word
Far Rockaway gives a massive high five to urban culture straight out of NYC, yet it feels like a natural fit for this part of town where street art and cool kids are still ruling the roost.