A creative hub in the heart of Shoreditch, The Book Club is long-standing favourite in the area. It’s got a canteen-like vibe and offers a range of cocktails and bar snacks, as well as monthly-rotating exhibitions, weekly arts and cultural events, DJs, bands, and a lively, welcoming atmosphere.
Formerly a Victorian warehouse, The Book Club is spread across two polished wooden floors with exposed brickwork giving it a rustic feel. Upstairs, an open plan kitchen sits adjacent to the bar and small tables are scattered across the room, with a ping pong room visible through the unusual oval hole in the wall. Arts and crafts events are held downstairs and this is very much a unique selling point for the venue. For example, the Come Get Felt Up event transports you into a world of pipe cleaners, cardboard boxes, scissors and sticky tape, with a band playing in the background, for just £3. Other regular events include life drawing and Tweetbox, a night where you can tweet your musical suggestions in advance for the chance to win a free cocktail.
Unsurprisingly, The Book Club is somewhat of a honey pot for leather jacket wearing, tousled hair media types. There’s a relaxed and bohemian vibe, enhanced by the appealing music policy, colourful wall illustrations, tea lights in jam jars and unisex ‘rest rooms’. Snug and cosy, the main room is framed by thick, heavy curtains, and group of people perch on the windowsill clutching glasses of wine, while others hover near the bar, play some ping pong or sip pints in the room next door.
As befitting its position in the heart of Shoreditch, The Book Club puts on a genre-defying mix of cool indie acts and credible DJs. The playlist includes everything from Last FM’s band showcases to rare funk and reggae at the Big Ten Inch events. This being Shoreditch you can also count on some bizarre guest appearances from ten-piece vintage brass bands and arty-leaning muso performance artists, too.
The thick, brown paper menus fixed to clipboards with slightly faded typewriter script suggests that, even if the food is not the main focus, it is more than a passing concern. From a limited selection of snacks for under a fiver, the salt and pepper calamari with lime aoli is reasonably portioned and cheap as chips (£4), but is also thick and overly chewy. The green queen’s olive mix (£2.50) is better, and you can also opt for sharing platters (around £10-plus) - the haloumi, hummus and cous cous are adequate, but the Mediterranean vegetables it is served with are undercooked and bitter and the red pepper aioli is lacking in any peppery flavour.
Ah, the drinks. Wine bottles are lined up on white tiles behind the bar, arranged by flavour and price from light and floral to rich and full-bodied, and labels are scrawled in black felt tip pen. Wines range from £15-£27 and the Chilean Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc which, despite being one of the cheaper bottles (£17) on the menu, punches well above its weight. There’s also a reasonable selection of beers and ciders, both on draught and in bottles, but not to be missed are the infamous cocktails, priced at around £7 (you can order sharing jugs for £28). Tongue-in-cheek names such as Shoreditch Twat (Jagermeister, tequila, chartreuse and an egg) or Don’t Go To Dalston (Hendrick’s gin and falernum syrup) stick out alongside other such delights as Garden Party and Pear Crumble.
The Last Word
The Book Club is a fantastic all-day venue, taking you from morning coffee and breakfast meetings right through to after-work drinks and dancing in the evening.