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The Book Club (Bar)

Picture of The Book Club in Shoreditch, London

100 Leonard Street, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 4RH
Cuisine: Modern International Average Price: £10.00
Tel: 020 7684 8618 | Email to The Book Club | Transport: Old Street | Write review

The Book Club Review

I’ll Be Clumsy.

Every Time I Sit Around I Find I’ve Died.

Yep, downing shots at the bar never seems like a good idea - apart from at the time, of course - and phrases such as these should literally be writing on the wall for a night out in frisky Shoreditch. The poignant slogan-heavy pop art decorating The Book Club is a confusing mix of colours, shapes, and random phrases. As was my evening there.

It starts with Madness (capital M), quickly moving onto Radiohead (capital R), followed by Skynyrd, Elton, and Bowie. My money’s on Queen being next. Ideal background nourishment as the yapping of a Friday evening begins.

We sit down in the low wooden seating and observe: a funky hole in the central wall; a huge shop front window with full curtains; a perfect view of the abandoned car park and disused warehouse across the street. It’s enjoyable to note a crumbing bastion of Industrialisation from within a building of reclaimed modernity. Oh, the juxtaposition. It’s like looking out onto 1960s America. Possibly Arkansas. On a Tuesday. Around Noon.

On the horizon a game of ping pong wiff-waff is taking place. All signs point to an imminent rumble if this game goes awry. There’s always Guess Who and Scrabble if times get tough.

To the left of us is Henry Holland; that chap off of that there telly with the impractically erect hair and shadowy tan. It’s always nice to bump into someone you know at a bar, even if they don’t know you and you’ve never actually met.

The remainder of the room is filled with sculpted hair that’s had plenty of money styled through it. The demographic is mostly on the expensive side of 30, majority female, wearing stripes, polka dots, and floral patterns. They’re possibly drawn here by the sizable cocktail list. At first we decide it must be our own proclivity towards the fairer sex that is to blame for the disproportionality. Later we discover that the ladies wholly prefer lounging upstairs, whilst the gents - mainly rocking last season’s hoodies and shoulder bags - hide downstairs. What does that say about the world today?

Don’t Go To Dalston. What a fabulous idea, in liquid form. The DGTD is one of The Book Club’s finest libations, refreshing parts of me I hardly knew existed. Who knew the simple act of messing Bombay Sapphire with Martini Rosso and tropical falernum could result in such a smooth ride. It’s certainly fared better than my friend's Hoxton Tea, a disappointing version of an underachieving mojito. He has a Screwface. Two, in fact. One as a reaction to the Hoxton Tea, the other as his second “Lovely viscous” cocktail.

I like a meal that has a lot going on - an anti pasti platter, if you will - especially if it has all the necessary accoutrements for one to fashion one’s own mini pizza from garlic bread, prosciutto, marinated artichokes and pesto, if one were so inclined. I remark to my guest that I can vouch for the daylight food stuffs too, having sampled the breakfast, the brunch, the lunch and probably the linner before. The fresh juices are especially salubrious.

Post-munch, we descend into the basement shack, passing a group of hirsute gents playing a lackadaisical game of pool near the entrance. In the far corner is a curtain. What’s behind it? A middle aged man convincing talking lions and Dorothies from Kansas of his omnipotence? Or, more likely, a comfy saloon hideout - we’ll call it The Snug - filled with the spoils of a classic British shabby chic set-up: the Chesterfields, the Oriental rugs, the distressed furniture, and, because this is Shoreditch, exposed brickwork.

The pull of the main floor is too much though. I am a ceiling-covered-in-lightbulbs partisan. I strongly support such behaviour. Combined with the unmistakable clarion sounds of a Northern Soul jive-fest, it galvanises myself, my companion, and 40 other giddy revellers into spending the remainder of our evening flailing limbs. Life was simple back then. It was all Blues n’ Rock n’ Roll. Just shake whatever you’ve got. Praise be the DJ with the stack of 7’’ singles.

So, turns out The Book Club, aside from being my new favourite bar, is a preeminent ‘How To’ guide: How to forget all your self imposed restrictions on drinking lager and downing shots; How to be chatted up by young, attractive Irish women who turn out to be married; How to feel like continuing the party even when The Book Club is closed; How to wake up on the floor of someone else’s house with a raging hangover and some unusual smells wafting about your person in a room that you’re not entirely convinced isn’t a dog kennel. How to be multifariously brilliant, is all. more

Customer Reviews for The Book Club

Average (based on 3 votes): 3 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of The Book Club.

“appalling pretentious little dive, forced to queue outside for 20 minutes despite the club being half-empty. So you queue to advertise their business ...nice Food was cold - inedible rude staff, overpriced drinks, tacky, trying desperately to be trendy but failing miderbaly”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
James Adkin, London (10 years 2 months 15 days ago)

“This east London bar and club has many different guises. During the day it’s a great place to grab some wifi and breakfast whilst conducting a business meeting (clearly very popular with the media companies that inhabit this Shoreditch area). In the evening, it’s an eccentric gathering place for people interested in all manner of things - books, music, art, discussion. Fridays and Saturdays it really goes for the clubbing crowd and gets quite busy. In recent months there seems to have been a big surge from Essex as the out-of-towners get the fun train into London.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Lesley, Mile End (10 years 7 months 25 days ago)

“Just plain awesome. What a fantastic place to go, any time of the day. I've been here for breakfast and stayed working on my laptop for hours. Great juices and food during the day. Plus awesome tunage playing all day too. Then as the evening draws in, the 'cool' factor goes through the roof when Book Club is inundated with lots of really friendly, interesting people. When the downstairs gets moving it's a total riot. But not a wasted riot, a jovial, genial, pleasant riot. And lads, it's FULL to the brim with lots of beautiful ladies.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Tims, Dalston (10 years 9 months 4 days ago)

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Its all about sharing and socialising. A young and fun cantina style cocktail menu featuring Lageritas by the pint and cocktails served in camping cups, bowls of punch and wine by the carafe.

Updated 13/10/2009

Additional Information

  • Cuisine Type: Modern International
  • Average Price: £10.00
  • Dress Code: Dress down / no suits / work attire / smart wear
  • Group: Mothership Group

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