Halfway down a very unassuming Wadeson Street in the middle of Tower Hamlets/Hackney hides an almost secret venue for arty folks, the cream of the design crowd and food lovers alike. Bistrotheque is a brilliant place to surprise friends with – the industrial surroundings raises some eyebrows from new visitors, and the entrance is easy to miss. But this restaurant/bistro (as the name suggests) remains firm in my heart, and from experience, the best things in East London come in hidden packages!
It’s the design of the place that strikes you the most upon entering. Slick whitewashed exposed brick walls, white tiling, heavy marble tables and black chairs, the paired down monochrome works incredibly well. The whole restaurant is divided by the partly open kitchen, which sits as the heart of the space. Bistrotheque certainly doesn’t do anything by halfs.
The weekend dining experience is also made much richer with the inclusion of pianist Xavior who plays tinkling pop songs in a classical style on the baby grand piano. Expect songs along the lines of Kylie hits, the genius that is Grease the musical and re-workings of Joy Division and Radiohead. Luke and I spent some time humming along to a song, before realising embarrassingly that it was Boyzone! If anyone can make you see the great side of old school cheesy pop, Xavior can.
The weekend daytime food is spotless and fairly traditional with a debutant twist. Usual menu items include perfectly poached eggs, American style pancakes served with maple syrup and bacon and half a dozen of the freshest rock oysters you’re likely to get in the area. I would however recommend sticking to the 3 course menu specials if you’re on a budget, as Bistrotheque doesn’t come cheap and any separate extras will burn a hole in your pocket.
The best bet for a weekday evening if you can finish work early enough (I’m fortunate to live just round the corner) is the prixe fix menu – at £17.50 for a 3 course meal, it’s well worth skipping the likes of pizza express for a far superior meal.
Bistrotheque also has some brilliant sounding drag queen and cabaret nights in the eclectic and eccentric style which East London perfects so well. I have yet to go to visit however, so anyone who has been, comments please!
The main let down of the whole Bistroteque experience is the seriousness of the whole affair – as a favourite for the elite of the east London crop it does feel a little pretentious at times. Everyone looks so spotless/art chic, but once in a while why the hell not. As a place for a special occasion or just for a little splashing out, this really does do the trick.