American nostalgia: I’ve been suffering from this condition ever since I set foot on European soil again. Here’s what you have to do if you’re looking for an American night in Shoreditch.
Dinner at Red’s True Barbecue
Enter this huge Great Eastern Street restaurant to feel like you’ve been thrown into a Nashville diner. Neon signs with women’s legs inviting you to “Dance away your sins”, pure Americana on the radio and true yankee portions are exactly what eating barbecued meat in a Southern USA state feels like.
When I say “true yankee portions” I ain’t kidding. After sharing the decadent swine fries (a mix of sweet potato and skin-on fries with sour cream, cheese, chilli and pulled pork), I was officially defeated by food: my 400-gram meat combo of pulled pork and beef brisket with a side of giant onion rings went largely uneaten. My stomach must have reversed to European dish size.
Red’s sports American beers like the inevitable PBR and quite the selection of sauces – North Carolina BBQ, South Carolina BBQ, Kansas City BBQ, Judas Ketchup and hot sauce. Despite the size of the meal, prices aren’t too high: dinner for two is about £40, and it could have fed four people.
Red’s True Barbecue has a big treat for Twin Peaks geeks like me. Follow the “Amen” sign down to the toilets to find yourself in a Black Lodge lounge, complete with black and white tiled floor, red doors and curtains and white statues.
Luckily for me, Twin Peaks’ Bob wasn’t there. I left alive and well, apart from a food baby that threatened to last for a lifetime.
Shoreditch has plenty more to offer American nostalgics, but today I want to talk about a cocktail bar that will take you back to a sticky, dim-lit hot New Orleans night.
Head upstairs in none other than Rivington Street’s Bedroom Bar to discover a not-so-secret but definitely awesome mischievous bar: NOLA is exactly what every top notch New Orleans cocktail bar looks like.
Fleur de lis everywhere, cream wallpapers, lowered blinds, skulls and Napoleon busts, together with dim lighting and no air conditioning that isn’t a fan, NOLA could be a Bourbon Street bar minus the mosquitoes.
The cocktail menu is as Lousiana and innovative as it gets. Have a Grasshopper (cream, white cacao and crème de menthe) for a fresh dessert cocktail and a Something Sinister (Makers Mark bourbon stirred with quina, cherry and bitters, served up with a hint of aromatic smoke) for a sour cocktail to sip slowly in front of a jazz band.
I might be as far from America as it gets, but it doesn’t hurt to dream, right?
Pictures: Red’s True Barbecue, NOLA, Carolina Are