Summer Vibes in Bethnal Green at Chiringuito

22 Apr 2019

In London, it seems we can’t get enough of brunch. An excuse to drink from midday. Avocado. A way to catch up with friends without the fatigue of evening plans. More avocado. No need to get dressed up. Did we mention avocado?

It’s a no-brainer then that Chiringuito has decided to introduce a weekend bottomless brunch menu. Give the people what they want, we say.

Opening during the long hot summer of 2018, Chiringuito is a bar and restaurant that lives immediately on the door stop of Bethnal Green tube station. (Fun fact: it used to be the space that housed a derelict public toilet). Eight years in the making (eight!), every detail has been considered by local owner Alex Dehayen in order to cultivate a Hispanic, Latin American vibe. The wine, the menu, the music, the peseta-topped bar. Yet, a British influence is still present. The produce is sourced seasonally and locally, beers come from local East London breweries. Then again, there’s also Spanish gins and the cocktail menu sees Latino twists on classics, such as the Mezcaloni, a Mexican take on the Negroni, stirred down with Gem & Bolt mezcal, thyme syrup, chilli infused cacao and Campari.

This push-pull of melding cultures was certainly alive and kicking when we visited on an unseasonably warm March Saturday afternoon. Like any Londoner, the sight of sun had us dizzy with promise and we felt compelled to pick a pew from the selection of outside seating, the wind carrying the beautifully sweet scent of hyacinths over from the park. A climate change protest was in full swing in the square opposite the place. So far, so London.

Loosely translated from Spanish, a chiringuito is an all-day beachfront bar and restaurant serving tapas, drinks and snacks. Opting for the bottomless brunch, we sat back and waited for our bellinis to arrive. And waited. So far, so Spanish.

Hiccup on timeliness aside (why are we always in such a rush?), the cocktails really were delicious. Crisp prosecco harmonised by the syrupy sweetness of peach juice. Marvellous. Speaking of which, so was the food – we chose the vegetarian breakfast: eggs (any style), vegan chorizo, mushroom, grilled tomato, halloumi, mixed beans and sourdough toast. A proper feast. I think perhaps the vegan chorizo should be de rigueur for us all. It was smashing.

Of course, you can also order Peruvian-style Granola (quinoa, chia, almonds, pecans served with coconut yoghurt, honey and fresh fruit) but I’m no psychopath. I jest – granola eaters, you are better people than I. And probably far healthier. There are also pastries, eggs, and of course, avocado on toast.

Brunch finished, the upstairs roof terrace beckoned. The sun beamed down on us like a cloak of warm honey as we melted into the white-cushioned sofas under the pergola. Grapefruit spritz in hand (please order this), we recalled memories of lazy holidays and felt the thrill of excitement of pleasures to come. For a passing moment, we were there, by the beach, sipping on cocktails, the afternoon slipping slowly away. Until the megaphone chimed again: ‘We must act now to safeguard the future of the planet for our children,’ bellowed one protester. Ah yes, definitely still in London.

No matter. Who wants to live by the beach anyway? Not this hardened Londoner, that’s for sure. But spend an afternoon on a rooftop drinking brilliant concoctions and nibbling on salty, moreish snacks? Sign me up.

Framed by the surrounding trees, with views across the church and park below, Chiringuito really is a nifty spot, and not just for brunch. After work cocktails? No problem. Dinner under the stars? You bet. Coffee to go? For sure.

Next time the sun’s out, I know where I’m going for my injection of Hispanic vibes. See you there señores and señoritas.

Elisse Ahmet

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