Behind This Wall, 411 Mare St, London E8 1HY www.behindthiswall.com
Behind This Wall is a small and dinky basement bar on Hackney’s Mare Street with a new cocktail and raw bar offering that brings together Autumnal flavours and the hottest food-trend Ã¢â‚¬â€œ poke.
The first thing to mention about Behind This Wall is how difficult it is to find. If it wasn’t for knowing the building number, and a helpful shop nearby displaying its street number, I probably would have walked around for a lot longer before finding it.
Keep your eye out for a black sign with’BAR’ written on it with, the giveaway, a small key symbol in the corner. Under the sign you will see a staircase which, if you follow it down, takes you to a minimalist bar with plywood-style all in one seats and tables, and a bar. It doesn’t look like much from first impressions but, I’m very glad I found it.
We started with some cocktails. Alex Harris, co-founder, head bartender and chef, has devised the cocktail menu to blur the boundaries between food and drink, with many of the cocktails reading like a gastronomic experience. We started with two’Aperitifs’ Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the menu has been structured so drinks are grouped by the time of day.
The Providence Martini made with wormwood vodka, dry vermouth, orange amere and served with a cranberry and lime olive was a strong drink to start the evening but a delicious take on a martini. The cranberry and lime olive at the end was not what I expected, and burst in your mouth leaving a tangy, zesty flavour.
Next a’Highball’. The Uncle Buck, made with aged rum, ginger, naga chilli molasses, mole bitters and root beer was not a cocktail for me. It tasted, sadly, like a bad cough syrup making it quite unpleasant to drink.
The food swiftly followed this, however, and more than made up for the disappointing Buck. Starting with half-dozen oysters covered with a light salty foam was a very good way to start the meal. Creamy and plump, delicious.
We were then served the combination oyster poke Ã¢â‚¬â€œ why go for one when you can try a combination? A pumpkin’oyster’ sat on top of black rice with a switchel glaze, lime pickled onions, lemon sea food, Chesapeake seasoning, toasted pumpkin seeds and some clam chowder.
The pumpkin oyster I had expected to have the texture of an egg yolk but, I was pleasantly surprised. It was quite well set and when mixed with the foam and the rice created a sticky, salty, tasty mouthful. The black rice was al dente but gave the dish a nice texture and the lime pickled onions adding some tang. All in all, a very tasty dish.
Although I agree that the maple candied fruits and Vermont cheddar did work together, the measly thin slices of cheddar dried very quickly, so were quite disappointing.
Overall, I enjoyed my time in Behind This Wall. Interesting and tasty cocktails that each come with their own little surprise, accompanied by a simple but well prepared selection of unique bar snacks creates a great experience.
If you find yourself in Hackney with a friend looking for somewhere to go, I would recommend you seek out Behind This Wall.