I love a good cocktail, so when I was invited down to the mysteriously named, Bar Behind this Wall I was intrigued. Behind this Wall opened this March so is a relative newbie to the London foodie/bar scene, but has most definitely made its mark already.
Situated in London’s achingly trendy Hackney, I was a little worried that I’d be drinking from a jam jar and eating off magazine paper all night (ok maybe the latter hasn’t actually happened, but it definitely could.)
It’s hard to keep up with London these days. We know that Peckham is the new Brixton, Dalston was the new Shoreditch and Hackney’s the new Dalston. Apparently Walthamstow is the new Hackney, but I haven’t quite made it up there yet. I may wait until Neasdon is the new Walthamstow and Morden’s the new Neasdon, because I’m alternative like that. Anyway I digress. In London it’s hard to keep up, stay put and stay interested, which is why when launching anything: a bar, a restaurant, an app, you have to be sure it will make an impact, as any Suit worth their salt will ask, what’s the USP?
With Behind this Wall it’s quite simple: oysters in Hackney. That in itself is pretty radical and something that would have been deemed quite the oxymoron, 5 or even 3 years ago.
Being a new Hackney restaurant/bar, Behind this Wall is still quite Hackney. New Hackney, not stabby Hackney. It’s called behind this wall for a start, which is fairly mysterious and intrigue-inducing. It’s also in a basement, has no actual door sign, is accessible via a small nondescript staircase, and only recognisable by a neon ‘Bar’ sign. Tick, tick, tick tick. But unlike its other trendy basement bar cousins, BTW is no dive bar, it’s actually fairly swanky. The cocktails come in glasses, the floor is clean and the bar is bedecked in stunning white tiles that instantly exude a classy cosmopolitan vibe. The menu changes every season, but I was invited down to sample the Autumn menu, which centred around oysters. Despite being a woman of the world, I’ve never actually tried oysters, partly because they seem a bit weird and partly because I’ve never really been in need of an aphrodisiac (insert winky face).
As they were on the menu I decided it was high time I gave them a go, plus I was with a vegan, so I kind of wanted to gross him out.
After we’d creeped down the stairs into BTW and were pleasantly surprised by the decor and cool but unpretentious vibe, we were hit by the heat. It is seriously hot. Uncomfortably hot. Perhaps it was the freakishly warm September night, or the fact that such a small windowless place can’t take as many people as were in it, but they definitely need air con, or need to sacrifice an oyster to the gods in hope of a freezing winter.
After we’d acclimatised and queued for quite some time, we got down to the business of munching. Throughout the course of the evening we sampled the rye bread with limey onions, which was to die for and a combo of poke, pumpkin and oysters. Sadly the poke combo was topped which a clam foam which was far too pungent for my palate, which was a shame because the oysters were lovely.
In keeping with Hackney, the toast came on a giant slab of not exactly slate, but some kind of super heavy stone that was near impossible to carry from the bar (which we had to a few times as the chef-come-waiter kept forgetting about us; to be fair it was busy, and he did try his best but it didn’t make life any easier that it weighed about a tonne). Thankfully the oyster poke came in a light porcelain Oyster shell, which was a nice touch.
The cocktails were created around the menu’s theme, but having already decided I hated the taste and smell of clams, the clam and oyster fuelled Bloody Mary, was a bit of a miss for me. The Viuex over Manhattan was a winner though and my buddy for the evening also loved the G&Ts .
All that BTW is missing in terms of drinks is some really good bubbly, because oysters with oyster tomato juice totally isn’t swanky.
Overall we had a fantastic evening and the menu and venue are definitely a great starting point both for your night and the BTW team.