As much as we love our old haunts, it’s great to check out new places – maybe get off the train one station before your stop or venture out to the other side of town. This week we stopped off at Cambridge Heath for our date night.
What to wear: The Spring evening look
Since the clocks went forward, we’ve been so eager to swap our dark winter wardrobe for some Spring pastel colours. This outfit is made up of Topshop Utility Peg Trousers, Yoins Silver Slip On Loafers, a Jaeger Lace Panel Cropped Blouse, and topped off with a Valentino Rockstud Tote Bag.
Where to drink: The Natural Philosopher
Where: 489 Hackney Road, E2 9ED
One of those – “Is this a bar? It could be an antique shop… Wait, no – there’s a bar in there.” We discovered our new favourite cocktail hang out by accident. Complete with exposed brick, grand portraits, and decorative skulls smattered about, The Natural Philosopher is a quirky yet sophisticated cocktail joint.
Stepping into the living room, you prop up the bar that is sunken into the floor below. Peering down at the bartender, order one of the Natural Philosopher signature cocktails or opt for your go-to classic – their lengthy menu ensures nobody is left out. It isn’t a place for beer or wine though; these mixologists don’t mess about with anything but cocktail concoctions.
Where to eat: The Hive Of Vyner Street
Where: 286-290 Cambridge Heath Rd, E29DA
The Hive started out as something of a coffee shop, but it’s become much more than that. In fact, you could call it East London’s Italian answer to all things healthy and organic. Head down early for a brunch of cold-pressed juices, Square Mile coffee, and the usual salmon, avocado, and sourdough delights. However the evening sees The Hive of Vyner Street turn into a different beast. While the glass panes suggest a coffee shop vibe and leave the bar wide open to the busy road and passers-by, the lights dim and the candles come out to welcome in an evening of wine-tasting and authentic Italian snacks and sharing boards. Visible from the street, the display wall of wines and beers is enough to draw you in to sample some of the exclusive Italian beverages this Bethnal Green joint has to offer.
We were welcomed by the staff who were keen to talk us through the wine list and introduce us to their evening Aperitivo menu that launched recently. The wines available are predominantly sourced from Northern Italy, some of which The Hive is proudly the only UK stockist – talk about exclusive! One of the wines came from a vineyard that only produces 2000 bottles each year. Fortunately, if that’s the one you’re quite taken by – we certainly were – you can stock up from the (very convenient) wine shop on the premises. The wine list is updated every couple of weeks – a great incentive to keep returning to try new flavours and varieties.
Knowing very little of what to expect from the Aperitivo menu, the staff explained that the menu was designed to compliment their natural wines. We started by nibbling on some activated almonds coated with chia seeds, followed by Liguarian farinata, light and tasty chickpea flour flatbread. It became obvious that the healthy and nutritious precedent of the restaurant was steeped into the evening menu too. Naturally, pizza appeared on the menu, but these raw pizza bites made from carrot and walnut then baked for 36 hours were a world away from your greasy takeaway Margarita. A superb vegan option was the Hive Burger, which was made from a tasty combination of mushroom, courgette, and pumpkin seeds. Having spoilt ourselves with pizza, burger bites, and vegan cheesecake, it was lovely to leave the bar feeling satisfied and slightly tipsy.
Finally, we just had to give a mention to their upcoming event Wonderful Shades of Nebbiolo, which is taking place 31st March. It’s the Hive’s wine-tasting event to showcase the Nebbiolo grape. You’ll listen to talks from Italian winemakers and try out some exclusive and very special wines.
Photo credits: Richard Massey