There’s a fusion fever going on among the capital’s retailers. Walk into a shop now and you could find the store cupboard well stocked with the latest fashion must-have items but also a drinks cabinet to rival any boozy bar. A few venues have started to serve several purposes at once. It’s a nifty idea and one that caters perfectly to the after-work drinks and focus on food culture that’s risen over the last few years.
Back in 5 Minutes has had a lot of attention recently – and with good reason. The new restaurant is the latest creation from the brilliant pop-up team Disappearing Dining Club. Hidden at the back of a clothes shop on Brick Lane, it definitely has a style: a ramshackle 1950s kitsch living room meets candlelit cubbyhole.
Three large tables (each big enough to seat ten people) are placed closely together – there’s a huge emphasis on sharing and mingling – from talking to the stranger sitting next to you. It operates on Wednesdays (when a three-course set menu is served to all at 7.30pm for £30 per person). On Fridays and Saturdays diners can drop in for an à la carte menu with dishes like slow roast pork shoulder and green pea and summer truffle risotto for the mains and a retro jam roly poly or apple crumble options for dessert.
The positive effect a pop-up could have on business was highlighted well before this. Drink, Shop & Do, situated on Caledonian Road, is a design shop/café bar/sweet shop and part-time drawing class/hair salon and nightclub. Owned by Coralie and Kristie, the establishment started out as a pop-up shop called Christmas Cooler but several months later secured a permanent fixture in an old Victorian bath house. Everything in the shop is for sale: from sweet shop-inspired afternoon tea and sherbet cocktails (Drink) to designer crafts, vintage tea sets, recycled milk bottles and 1950s furniture (Shop). In the evening, there are events such as Play with Clay ’80s-Style and Dot to Dot Disco (Do).
As well as sharing space, the worlds of food and fashion are taking inspiration from each other. The Berkeley hotel’s famous Prêt-à-Portea combines elements of the traditional English afternoon tea with a fashionista twist. Inspired by the themes and colours of the fashion world, the menu is transformed every six months to follow the changing seasons in fashion. The S/S 2012 collection sees designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Jason Wu and Valentino grace the Berkeley’s tea stand. Cakes resemble catwalk designs. The savvy stylish people will be sure to recognise the designer hats and shoes. You never know, she or he might even be decked out in the wearable version while sipping away.
By splicing up their shop space and playing host to an attention-grabbing pop-up, event or class, retailers are cannily getting more punters in and offering fashion and a food fix under one roof. It’s an idea that’s sure to develop further.
Back in 5 Minutes
224 Brick Lane
Tel: 07507 754 318
Drink, Shop & Do
9 Caledonian Road
Tel: 020 3343 9138
Tel: 020 7107 8866
Image by Nick Ensing