What to See in Shoreditch
The Geffrye Museum
The Geffrye Museum illustrates the archetypal style of English middle-class living rooms. Its collections of furniture, textiles, paintings and decorative arts are displayed in a series of period rooms from the 17th Centaury to the present day.
The displays lead the visitor on a walk through time, from the 1600’s with oak furniture and paneling, past the refined splendour of the Georgian period and the high style of the Victorians, to 20th century modernity as seen in a mid 20th centaury flat, a 1950’s room in quintessential contemporary style and a late-20th century living space in the form of a converted warehouse.
The museum is set in an elegant array of 18th century almshouses with a modern wing surrounded by eye-catching gardens, which include an prized walled herb garden and a succession of period gardens.
The Golden Hinde
The original Golden Hinde was Sir Francis Drake’s famous flagship during his voyage around the world. The journey took three years, with the Golden Hinde being the only ship to complete the voyage.
Drake left Plymouth in the late 16th century; the aim of the voyage was for Drake and his crew to be the first Englishmen to circumnavigate the globe. Queen Elizabeth I gave Drake a deed granting him permission to attack and loot ships belonging to England’s enemies effectively the Spanish. Due to this charter, Drake and his men regarded themselves as privateers, not pirates, however, the Spanish took a different view and regard him as a pirate to this day.
Drake overthrew many Spanish ships during this epic voyage, the most famous being the Cacafuego. The plunder stored on this ship was so immense that Drake’s men emptied the Golden Hinde’s ballast and stored the spoils in the bilge for the remainder of the voyage.
On returning to England, Drake became both rich and famous. Elizabeth I took a share of the prizes captured, the crew each had a share, with the humblest cabin boy taking home the equivalent of £1million in today’s money. Elizabeth visited the Golden Hinde with great ceremony, and Drake was knighted on deck, unusually by the French ambassador, not the Queen, in an attempt to distance the crown from the monetary success of the voyage. This was a belief held by the Spanish at the time and still remains today.
Elizabeth I passed a decree that the Golden Hinde should be preserved at Deptford so that her adoring public could visit the craft and celebrate Drake and England’s achievement. The Golden Hinde consequently became Britain’s first museum ship. Sadly the original ship rotted away in the late 1600s.
White Cube Gallery
White Cube, Mason’s Yard opened in September 2006 and is located off Duke Street, St. James's, home of the original White Cube gallery, on a site that was previously an electricity sub-station.
Designed by MRJ Rundell & Associates, The White Cube was the first free-standing building to be built in the St James's area of Shoreditch for more than 30 years. The building houses a main, basement floor gallery naturally lit for better display, and benefitting from a double-height space. A second gallery located on street level provides a total of near to 5000 ft² of exhibition space.
White Cube, Mason’s Yard continues with an internationally, high profile programme of exhibitions, its inaugural showing was an extremely fabulous exhibition by Gabriel Orozco.
A must to visit for all of the contemporary art buffs visiting the UK Capital.
Restaurants in Shoreditch
Beach Blanket Babylon
The Beach Blanket Babylon Restaurant formerly located in Notting Hill has now arrived in Shoreditch, wrestling with the à la mode dudes at their own game. This west London impostor has disheveled a few feathers with its own version of the area’s maximalist design argot.
Having set to win over the mixed crowd of City Financial types, local trendier clientele and not forgetting the iron-haired Wags’, all achieved with its eccentric approach which has apparently succeeded.
No doubt helped by the pared-back menu of reasonability priced crowd pleasers, which include fish & chips, steaks, salads & sundaes. Opulent quality is suggested throughout the rejuvenated menu with barely a hint of serious cost-cutting. Service could have been a little more spiced up: a little more charm and attention to detail would turn this restaurant into that special place. The cocktails really dazzle and the ambiance is pleasing.
Green and Red
A Mexican ripple has swept over London in last few years, but without exception, E2’s Green and Red succeeds in being totally different from the obvious competition. Abstaining from the greasy retro-gringo Tex-Mex & trendy California-Mexican in favour of the real thing. The Green and Red’s stock in trade is rare Tequilas, many more than you could count, cocktails well mixed and very moreish, and Jaliscan street food.
Menus haven’t changed much over the years. Antojitos - starters, still include jicama salad & octopus ceviche, while the now infamous gut-busting platos fuertos taken as a main course, and could be a lamb shank with ancho chilli & spices or rib-eye with chipotle salsa version still remain firm favourites.
Great value taco & burrito lunches are now available for a very reasonable fee. Both the now very popular restaurant & quirky bar have taken time to settle in, but the popular music, graffiti art, happy-go-lucky staff and dippy menu glossary, entitled ‘WTF am I eating, suggests that they have finally attained the accolade they deserve, authentic Mexican with a touch of madness.
Yet again, another unadulterated Soho House group success, revitalising this warehouse space and turning it into a relaxed Manhattan styled diner. Pizza East has a spacious interior set out with bistro/banquette seating, a large communal table, and stools at a central bar.
A jovial T-shirted workforce keeps the attractive arty multitude fed and watered with rustic platters of Italian meats & cheeses and the ever flowing on-tap wines by the tumbler & carafe. Pizzas, of course, are the mainstay of the kitchen, which produces expertly rendered versions, topped with an array of generously strewn ingredients. Clientele can choose from an assortment of delectable offerings, perhaps spicy sausage with crunchy sprouting broccoli, garlic with an inspired hit of aniseed or one of the many popular variants.
Other dishes, such as a large bovine femur, roasted & sliced lengthways to expose a slick of glistening marrow, can be rather too rich, but try to save room for the star tart – thick pastry layered with gooey caramel & intense bitter chocolate, topped with rock salt, flaked almonds and a generous portion of crème fraîche.
Root Master Restaurant
If the unusual is what you seek look no further than this distinctive restaurant.
London is famed for its iconic red double-decker buses, which goes some way to explaining why the Rootmaster ‘Bustaurant’ isn’t located in a newly designed space but alternatively on the upper deck of a discontinued Routemaster Bus parked by the Truman Brewery.
The remarkably atmospheric setting & vegan based menu make it a date restaurant par excellence for the capital’s vegetarians. Candlelit ambiance making it a cosy venue by night, this quirk eatery delivers at treat prices. Very reasonable priced at round £14 for a superb main course. Conversely, you can be confident of low food miles, including the organic Brick Lane tofu, ethically sourced ingredients & consistently good cooking from the lower-deck kitchen.
By the day, its value for money comes in the form of Asian noodles, wraps and veggie curries all at a reasonable cost of around £6 - £7 per course. Wines, from £13.50, are true to the organic cause and extremely palatable.
The vehicle’s Machiavellian suspension does the waiting staff no favours every time they ascend or descend the traditional spiral stairs is an experience you should not miss however service can be shaky but entertaining.
Rosa's Thai Restaurant
Rosa’s has slotted right in to the Spitalfields scene. Rosa’s represents a cute, stylish yet simple and most importantly, value for money Thai Restaurant in the metropolis.
Mutterings may suggest that the service and apparent tiny portions are off putting, but given that the rest of the colonised area populated by the big and boring chains; this very popular and innovative Thai restaurant deserves to be given a second thought.
The interior represents a fun time as the clientele sit on brightly coloured stools at canteen tables under mesmerising glowing pink lights, a different concept in a world of traditional institutionalisation. The menu not unique, journeys its way through the customary soups, satays, curries, salads, pad Thai which represents all that is good about Thai cuisine and this consistent eatery.
The kitchen also turns out more varied and plush serving, which adds to the more traditional yet well presented menu. Specialties such as rack of lamb salad with spicy eggplant, seafood baked with butternut squash & stir-fried venison with Thai herbs; black pepper & chilli help the cause of this superb little Thai experience.