Here’s the next in our series of longer conversations, ‘Bethnal Green; After Hours’, in which we’re shining a light on all of the fantastic businesses that make E2 such a vibrant place to be at night. The pubs, the clubs, the galleries, the restaurants, the bars & much more besides – new & old – we’re blessed as an area with some hidden gems and some straight-up institutions that fly the flag for the ever changing, ever-beloved East End.
We caught up with Alex from Chiringuito – to hear about his new venture in Museum Gardens. One of the great things about Bethnal Green is its swirling melange of cultures, & it was lovely hearing how devout east Londoner Alex has brought a little slice of Barcelona to E2 – cheers Alex!
Hi Alex & Chringuito – tell us a bit about your new venue.
Hi Joe! Our new venue is called Chiringuito – named after the little all-day beach bars that line beaches in Spain. We don’t quite benefit from the Mediterranean sun, but we do sit in a lovely little corner of Museum Gardens, right next to Bethnal Green tube. Like our namesakes, we are an all-day venue serving you up a coffee and brekkie to start your day, right through to your post work dinner and cocktails. Whilst we can’t offer views of the Med, I think we have a pretty sweet spot to watch the world go by, and when the sun does pop out there’s no better place in BG than on our roof terrace.
Sounds great! What from the menu would you really recommend we tuck into when we visit?
Our menu is a blend of Spanish and Latin America dishes, and our Head Chef Marco Padilla is from Peru. That being the case, it would be wrong of me not to recommend his amazing ceviche. Like our beach side inspiration, the menu has plenty of fish and seafood options, and the seabass in chilli, passionfruit and grape sauce is amazing. For the meat lover, you would be hard pushed to beat our traditional Lomo Soltado – sliced rump steak sautéed with vegetables in a soy and ginger sauce, flamed with pisco.
Why Bethnal Green? Is the area close to your heart?
I love Bethnal Green. I’ve lived here for 15 years, and my family has grown up in and around Stepney and Bethnal Green for as many generations as we can look back. There’s something about its vibe and bustle that talks to me: sitting on the doorstep of the shiny City, but still kept down to earth and a little rough around the edges. Barcelona is another place very close to my heart, and I have spent time living in that spectacular city beside the sea and the mountains. Chiringuito is my attempt to bring a little piece of Barcelona to east London.
You came along to our meeting of ‘The Green’ last month – how do you think the community and the area are shaping up currently?
Thank you very much for inviting me along to meet with you guys. It was great to meet other like-minded, community-spirited people. It was really refreshing and interesting to listen to the group all speaking about their projects, successes, pitfalls, and coming together to encourage and support each other. Myself and other members of the team from Chiringuito would definitely like to belong to the group, and it would also be lovely to host you at our venue sometime.
..& how have you seen the area change over the years?
The area is changing a lot these days, and particularly in the fields of retail and hospitality. In the past I have found that in those fields the area has in the past been somewhat bland and lacking. Nowadays that is changing fast. Around our junction alone (Roman Road/ B Green Road/ C Heath Road) Paradise Row’s restaurants have cropped up, the new East London Hotel, nice coffee spots like Second Shot and Carmel, and even our very own winery in Renegade of Gales Gardens. I’m very happy to see that these have almost entirely been independent ventures, and yeah… we have space for a Starbucks too 😉
How will you be looking to maximise the great space you have there right by the tube station? That’s got to be a dream footfall spot!
It’s an awesome and unique spot, and I am proud to have the challenge of making it all tick. That’s quite a challenge when you consider that in the footprint of an old public toilet, we now have a 75 capacity roof terrace overlooked by St John’s Church, 50 or so bistro style seats facing the street and the park, another 50 or so spots on our park benches looking into Museum Gardens, and a further 30 seats in our cosy and bustling interior restaurant space. That’s quite some challenge for a first venture into restaurants, but myself and the team are giving it our all and getting closer and closer each day to our goals.
And tell us a bit about the design of the place – those roof tiles are proper!
It’s been quite a challenge trying to bring the chiringuito vibe to a derelict public toilet, 20 years after it’s doors were sealed shut. We’ve tried to do that by bringing the outside in as much as possible, with floor to ceiling windows on the street and park facing sides. When we started renovation, we found a whole in the roof where an old water tank sat, so we kept it… filled with walk-over glass of course. We’ve taken lots of cues from Catalan design, including the brightly coloured “hidraulico” tiles that you will find inside and on our rooftop.
Do you have anything exciting coming up that we should tell our readers about?
We are still adapting and expanding our menu and offering. By popular demand, we will soon be bringing you our take on Sunday roasts, of course still with a Chiringuito twist. So expect, roast chicken (Pollo Pachmanca), beef (Carne Asada) as well as a great aubergine vegetarian option. We will be bringing you a bottomless brunch, kicking off on Day of the Dead (a Mexican festival similar to Halloween); and a tribute to a famous little Cava and tapas bar from Barcelona called Xampagneria, serving up Cavas by the bottle
Chiringuito is at Museum Gardens, London E2 9PA
Find out more here