My very first visit to Beach Blanket Babylon was, quite simply, love at first sight. I’d previously made a fly-by visit with some friends for drinks a month earlier and was instantly struck by the decor – a fascinating mixture of charming classicism and contemporary cool – and the hipster bougie vibe which felt similar to Sketch in Mayfair. It seemed to insist only a certain type accustomed to exclusivity, good taste and quirky fun times (bordering on the naughty) should dare cross the spot’s threshold, so never one to resist a challenge – ;-) – I booked a table for my 30th birthday to get the full BBB experience.
On arrival, I was greeted by the loveliest maître d’ and a cocktail on the house (!), before my party was sat in the cosy table corner, perfect for a small group of friends.
The majority of us opted for the set menu (2 courses, £24.90, 3 course £29.50) , which featured a slightly edgy selection of traditional dishes. I chose the calamari with chili & lime mayonnaise for starter, followed by an 8 oz. rib-eye steak (medium to well done) with sautéed spinach & garlic mash and a selection of ice cream to top it all off.
The calamari was cool enough – although since discovering Busaba Eathai‘s version, it’s hard to find anything remotely comparable; so divine! – and it’s a decent portion, at least. But my friend seemed smitten by her grilled goat’s cheese with roasted sweet peppers, crispy potatoes & chimichurri, which I’d probably opt for next time.
As for the main, I really enjoyed the mash, which perfectly complimented the tasty steak – and the dessert, while small, just worked for the simple fact that the pistachio flavour added a bit of flair to the usually redundant chocolate and vanilla combo. Drinks-wise, I stuck to the subtly sweet albeit pricey treat of Prosecco Rose (£6.50 a glass) for most of the evening, which overall I could say ended enjoyably, and without a hitch.
It’s no secret that BBB has been plagued with poor reviews in the past, but off the back of this experience, I’d say it’s an intriguing locale that offers a stylishly cosmopolitan night out, but one that doesn’t require the dining. Where it triumphs is in its ambience, friendly staff, zealous cocktail culture (there’s an entire lounge downstairs) and its ability to make you feel a level beyond bourgeoisie – and who doesn’t want that? (Words: Matilda Egere-Cooper)
[stextbox id=”custom”]Beach Blanket Babylon, 19-23 Bethnal Green Road Tube: Shoreditch High Street Price: (££££)£ Further info: www.beachblanket.co.uk/shoreditch