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A Spanish-Inspired ‘Beach Bar’ Is Moving into an East London Toilet

London’s “first chiringuito” will open in Bethnal Green next month

Chiringuito in Bethnal Green takes its inspiration from chiringuitos across Spain
chiringuito_ldn/Instagram

A novel concept: A Spanish beach-style bar is opening in a former public toilet in Bethnal Green, east London. Chiringuito, as it is called, takes its name for the Spanish snack huts that line the Iberian coast.

This one, though, will, when it opens next month, be on the edge of the busy Cambridge Heath Road, which runs from Whitechapel, via Bethnal Green, to Hackney Central. “With a rooftop over-looking the Museum Gardens, Chiringuito will call to mind the warmth, energy and ethos of lazy days spent at a Spanish beach bar,” an announcement said. It is “the passion project” of east London local, Alex Dehayen, who has converted a derelict public toilet block into a contemporary all-day bar.

As for the food. The kitchen will be overseen by Peruvian chef, Marco Padilla who has “created a menu inspired by fresh Hispanic and Latin American flavours and embracing the sharing ethos of tapas and pinchos.”

An eclectic, peripatetic menu will include: manchego with honey and fig; fish tacos comprising grilled swordfish with elderberry jam; roast pork belly in pisco and beer sauce with red Peruvian chillies; and pizza topped with roast tomato, spinach, chorizo or garlic mushroom.

It is said, a little confusingly, however, that the menu draws its principal inspiration from the tapas bars of Barcelona: thus featuring further dishes like Padron peppers, patatas bravas, grilled prawns in garlic — before, as the announcement says, that menu “sweeps across the Atlantic with touches of Mexican influence, as well as South American signatures” to give customers seabass ceviche in Peruvian leche del tigre. There are no rules.

Dehayen says that he committed to “upholding the vitality of the community” in which he grew up: “I wanted to bring something new and different to the place where I lived, to capture something that I loved from Spain and Latin American countries, which seemed to be missing in London.

“I love the vibe of the chiringuitos — they are places that you can go from sun up to sun down. Whilst the mood changes with the time of day, they are places where everyone is always welcome, where you can sit all day, won’t be rushed through service or hurried to leave — in fact you are encouraged to stay.”

Gin and tonics, made using a number of different Spanish gins, will be the focus of the bar — served in large glasses with lots of ice. Like every new cocktail bar that opens in London, other drinks will be served not classically, but with “twists.” Here: “Latino twists” to create the likes of a “Bloody Maria” with a dose of tequila or mezcal.

Cavas, Spanish wines, and local beers will be listed to enjoy in the sunshine. It will be hoped that 2018’s good weather holds out for at least another month.

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