Yesterday started with such good intentions. With 24 hrs childcare covered (thanks, Grandpa!), we had plans for a group picnic in St James’s Park, followed by a trip to the cinema to see the new Planet of the Apes movie, or maybe even the Inbetweeners. Anyway, it pissed it down, putting paid to the picnic plan, and we ended up spending the day drinking wine in Shoreditch House.
One of the few conversations I remember was someone talking in awed tones about the Nando’s Black Card, which entitles its bearer plus three companions to free food at Nando’s, forever. Apparently Jimmy Carr has one, as has David Beckham. On Facebook the other day a friend mentioned looking forward to “Nand o’clock.”
You can sneer, but mid-level chains don’t usually inspire that level of devotion. I’ve never heard anyone long for Ask o’clock or Giraffe o’clock. It’s never occurred to me to eat there before, but I’m now keen to give it a try (although I do fret about the provenance of their meat. Is it free-range? Before they end up plated with chips, are they happy chickens?)
Interesting piece in the Observer about Pete Doherty’s sleazy life:
Makes you wonder what Kate Moss is like that she could hang around him for so long. My favourite Kate Moss story:
I was at Shoreditch House a couple of years ago and Kate Moss and her friends were at the next table. My friend went outside for a cigarette and found himself sitting next to Kate, staring at a view that looked something like this:
She asked him for a light and said, ‘What’s that building, then?’
‘What,’ he said, ‘you mean the Gherkin?’
She looked at him askance. ‘What’s it called?’
‘Who calls it that, then?’
‘Umm… the people?’
‘I’ll tell you who calls it that,’ she said. ‘Fucking government calls it that.’
I guess this is why she doesn’t do interviews.
As much as I love Shoreditch, it has a colossal hang-up about Not Being New York. You can see it everywhere, from the clubs given names like ‘East Village’ to the relentless exposed brickwork to the second-hand shops that call themselves thrift stores. Occasionally some ambitious estate-agent type will try to force a New York-style nickname on the area, like ‘Sosho’ for South Shoreditch. These never catch on and are frankly just embarrassing for everybody.
The Hoxton Grill in the Hoxton Hotel is more upfront about its love of Americana, serving steaks, shrimp cocktails and mac’n'cheese-type fare. My husband thinks it’s a bit naff, but I really like it, not least for its pretty outdoor space, which doesn’t draw the crowds you’d expect for the simple reason that not many people know about it. The restaurant is owned by the Soho House people, which means you get nice Cowshed products in the loos.
The Hotel is supposed to be excellent value, too. It regularly offers promotional £1 rooms, which is such a good deal I’ve tried to book them several times myself, despite living two minutes down the road. It’s impossible, in any case. During the last sale, 100 rooms were booked within ten minutes. I suggest you give it a go though. Let’s face it, it could be the Devil’s own shitheap and you’d still be chuffed if you’d paid a pound.