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The Hobby Horse
DETAILS
Address: 281 KINGSLAND ROAD, LONDON, E2 8AS, E2 8AS

Nearest Tube:

Phone:

Last updated: 18 Mar 2010

With Shoreditch losing its 'cool' factor, East London scenesters are venturing further up the road. The concept of the Hobby Horse is suitably random enough to make it a Dalston classic.

The Venue
Situated on the edge of Regents Canal and Kingsland Road, the Hobby Horse is easy to find with a bus stop a two minute walk away. You'll know you're at the right place thanks to a blackboard outside stating the bar’s name (signs are so uncool, after all) and the collection of smokers who haven't realised there's a smoking area out the back.

Enter through the main double doors with draping curtains and you’ll discover a Victorian playroom – think rocking horses, black chandeliers, deep purple walls, Victorian-style curtains and lots of mirrors on the walls. There's even a dressing up box and an area for tarot reading. The space isn't very big, but this adds to the playroom feel.

The bar can be found to one side of the room, a small stage and DJ area is at the back and there's a hatch where food is served out of. Seating comprises a random selection of larger tables and chairs and comfy sofas.
The toilets are a reasonable size with funky tiles and modern-looking sinks and there's a narrow smoking area out the back. There's almost an unfinished feel to the bar but that’s just how Dalston twentysomethings like it.

The Atmosphere
There’s a really relaxed ambience here. It might be aiming to cater to those ex-Hoxtonites who are bored with the Shoreditch scene, but it's definitely not pretentious. As with a lot of Dalston bars, you won't find many old Hackney locals here, instead expect to find your standard Dalston twentysomething – think skinny jeans, trendy glasses and art-school influenced outfits. The staff are friendly and chatty – many are creatives who have had a lot of input into events in the bar.

The Music
The Hobby Horse is definitely not somewhere to come if you want to dance the night away to commercial music. While there is an area set aside for jiving in front of the stage, the tunes played can only be described as eclectic – anything from cabaret, rockabilly and acoustic tracks to your favourite electro and indie beats. The bar prides itself on welcoming performers who are friends of the venue – people who recognise the values of the place and want to be a part of the new growing Dalston scene, not musicians who want to be paid lots of money before going on their way.

The Food
The food adds to the ad hoc feel of the venue. The Hobby Horse supports their local butcher and the sausages are handmade by The Butcher Shop and served with a choice of mashed potato and chips, garden peas and onion gravy.

The menu of traditional and warming meals also includes scrumptious salads, such as the ‘Hobby Horse’ - a mixed leaf salad with chargrilled chicken, avocado, red pepper, free range egg, green beans, new potatoes and a honey and mustard dressing, as well as the traditional nicoise and chicken Caeser salads. There's also soup, lasagna and burgers, and a selection of side dishes and bar snacks. Main courses are a reasonable
£3.50-£7.95 and snacks are £2-£3. This is an impressive selection of food for what is essentially a bar and staff are always willing to adapt to your needs.

The Drink
Drink prices are average for the area and everything is set out on a blackboard behind the bar, so you know exactly what you're paying and it saves you the embarrassment of having to ask. A single spirit and mixer is £3.50 and it's the same for a pint. The selection isn't amazing but includes Guinness, Carlsberg and Stella and a selection of world beers.

The wine list is pretty good for a venue of this type. There are four reds, four whites, two roses and three sparkling bottles. Glasses of wine start at £3 for a small house wine and £4.25 for a large. Bottles are priced from £12 for a red house KWV South African Merlot and go up to £44 for a bottle of Moet. There's even a red Jacob's creek sparkling Chiraz on the menu (£22).

The Last Word
Random, miscellaneous, up-and-coming and definitely Dalston. If you want to be part of the ever-growing scene, this is the place for you.

Capacity: 300

MapLink: [map]

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