If a friendly, local watering hole is what you’re after, Biddle Bros is it. Named after the builders’ merchants that originally stood on the premises, this long and winding bar (which is a squeeze at busier times) is the perfect place to enjoy a spot of live music or open mic, if you’re feeling brave. Worth a visit, if only to have a natter with Reggie, the pub’s resident parrot.
Dusty Fingers Vintage Night Market
Here at R29, we love a good vintage market. Throw in some Vietnamese street food and some groovy tunes, and we’re anyone’s. Which is why we’re a little bit enamoured with the new Dusty Fingers Vintage Night Market. Specialising in mid-century furniture, industrial homewares, and curios, its founders scour Europe for treasures, such as rare radiograms and record players, which they rig to play iPods! Stalls to visit: Lukas Tvarda’s collection of rare Czech movie posters, RetroBongo, the market’s resident retro anglepoise lighting expert, and Lady Jane’s Vintage Bandwagon, for beautiful vintage dresses.
Photo: Courtesy of Dusty Fingers
Viktor Wynd's Little Shop of Horrors and The Last Tuesday Society
The Last Tuesday Society is reason enough for visiting Clapton. It’s a gallery (or ‘pataphysical organisation’, in the founders’ words) run by the delightfully eccentric Viktor Wynd, and Suzette Field – both artists in their own right – who organise everything from masked balls to taxidermy classes. The space is also home to Viktor Wynd’s Little Shop of Horrors, a curiosity shop filled with all sorts of wonders, from resin sculptures to vintage erotica. Next for Clapton’s local impresarios? A bar and events space called The Hackney Wunderkabinet, coming soon.
Pages of Hackney
Pages of Hackney is an independent book shop so excellent that upon entering, you’ll banish your Kindle, and remember why there’s no substitute for the real thing. This charming shop offers an eclectic mix of old, and new, fact, and fiction, but if you can’t find your chosen tome, take advantage of the personal book ordering service. Downstairs, discover some second-hand treasures and meet resident pooch, Merlin (whose favourite book, he tells us, is Gorilla by Anthony Browne).
Juice bar by day, cocktail-bar-cum-private-venue by night, Lumiere is a Clapton must-visit. Sample homemade juice concoctions, each given a local name – our personal favourites are the Clapton Carrot and Homerton Hangover. Lumiere’s name comes from its owner’s but is particularly fitting seeing as after dark, its basement lounge, filled with chandeliers, and underfloor illuminations, quite literally lights up.
Claptonites don’t come much cooler than artist Suzannah Pettigrew and editor, and photographer Tilley Harris, the dynamic duo behind The Depot, a creative hub comprising artists’ workspaces, gallery, and photography studio for hire. The space originally functioned as a tram depot in the 1880s and now plays host to some seriously cool exhibitions like its current show by musician and artist RMJ, and award-winning animator Anna Ginsberg. Stay tuned for their new cinema nights, launching later this month.
The Star by Hackney Downs
It would take a gem of a pub to replace locals’ favourite The Three Sisters, which once stood at 35 Queensdown Road. But if anyone can do it, it’s Rob Star – owner of the popular The Star of Bethnal Green, and The Star of Kings. His latest venture is The Star by Hackney Downs, which opened last week, and boasts cosy, eclectic interiors, and pizzas fresh from a stonebaked oven. (Tip: Get yours to-go for al fresco dining on the Downs.)
This greasy spoon was made for hungover brunching. Located in a converted warehouse on an industrial estate, what Mess Café lacks in glamour it makes up for in tasty Full English breakfasts – which they’ll make vegan, if you so wish.