Smoke and mirrors, secret entrances, off-key ingredients – the capital’s bar scene is always coming up with new ways to gain column inches and put a smile on the mush of attendees. This secretive basement, aside from having a name that sounds like a character out of an oldskool Hannah-Barbera cartoon, has one of the most unusual entrances in London – a Smeg fridge door.
Spitalfields and the surrounding area may be considered cool enough for the likes of Tracey Emin and Gilbert and George to call it home but it’s a right pain in the arse if you’re looking for a good bar that’s not absolutely heaving on any given evening. Step forth, the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, a hush-hush basement that’s accessible via the new Breakfast Club on Artillery Lane. As yet, it’s not been infiltrated by the downright rude City slickers who litter the area and even the Shoreditch twats haven’t ventured down en masse from outside the Golden Heart. Happy days.
Once you’ve navigated your way through the Smeg door and a member of staff has escorted you downwards, you enter into a dimly lit basement with exposed brick, varnished wooden walls and pieces of art, one proclaiming ‘No Heavy Pettting’ and another that looks like the Queen (but is actually someone's gran), which has been pimped out in a 80s hip-hop style. A couple of bar tenders service the room with drinks and the loos are a good laugh – they’re decked out in typical Breakfast Club style, with cuttings from Smash Hits and the 80s pieced together in a nostalgic montage.
Make a booking during the week and this is one of the best tips in this part of town for a couple of very respectable cocktails. Music ranges from soul classics to party tunes and the staff are very attentive. A table of City workers are in attendance along with some girls catching up with their friends, but, as yet, it’s still for those in the know.
A short menu offers snacks like popcorn (£2), chilli fries (£6) and meat balls of fire (£7), a dish that’s described as hot and spicy like Judy Finnigan – ha-ha! – and someone evidently has a thing for old saggy chops as she’s mentioned on the bill board out on the street too. You can always exit upstairs and eat from the full menu at Breakfast Club should you really get the munchies.
Cocktails are bang on the money here. Served long, short or straight up, there’s a mixture of classics as well as their own signature drinks. Ian Kane’s (the bar manager) Yang Tao Smash (£7.50) is a good ‘un: a refreshing mix of Plymouth gin, Grand Marnier, lime, mint and kiwi, it has a nice balance between sweet and sour and the mint softens up the sharpness of the fruit. Also worthy of investigation is the Pear Cardomom Sidecar, a delicious blend of Xante pear brandy, Grand Marnier, cardamom and lemon in a chilled martini glass.
The Last Word
A subterranean space that doesn’t just trade on its party trick of having a Smeg fridge as an entrance, the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is a genuinely great cocktail bar, in an area that’s often oversubscribed with a jarring mixture of City workers and uppity creatives. Destined for big things and, right now, the best bolthole in the Spitalfields area.