Recently, Hockley Arts Club introduced a new food menu as their focus is to try and become known for food as well as their cocktail offerings – they want something that looks funky but also tastes good. To launch their new menu they hosted a blogger’s night and I was invited along. I immediately said yes to the invite and headed down.
Previously I had only ever been to Hockley Arts Club for drinks. I still have only experienced the middle and top floor and have not managed to get a glimpse of their bottom floor, which I am assuming has a completely different decor to the other two?
For those who haven’t been, their menu is printed on the back of a David Bowie poster…retro.
First Impressions of Hockley Arts Club
The first few times I triedto go here I failed. Definitely a secret entrance, so secret that I wouldn’t advise you try and follow Google Maps to get here, or you’ll keep walking around in circles!
After talking to a couple of people at work I was reassured that the alleyway I was originally going down was in fact the correct way to get in.
This time I knew exactly where I was going so confidently made my way through the alleyway that’s squeezed between two shops. I heard a couple of people behind me asking “are you sure it’s down here?” I knew that feeling well! (Don’t worry, they made it).
The first thing I did was grab a drink, I chose the crouching tiger which was a concoction of coconut, lemongrass, ginger, lime and the magic ingredient of gin. It came smoking in a sipping bowl and was one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had, it was fresh and tasted like bottled Asia.
The menu we were given for the night was a simplified version with a selection of starters, mains and desserts on offer. My eyes went to the vegetarian and vegan starter: papaya, red onion, red pepper and avocado cups.
When this arrived it wasn’t what I was expecting as I still don’t know what “cups” referred to. It looked impressive I’ll give them that but very different to what was in my head. The taste was a bit of a let down. It was just those ingredients, there was nothing exciting happening and nothing really popped. It was like a bit of a panic “what do vegetarians eat?!” dish.
For main I opted for the sea bass, unintentionally ordering a full on pescatarian menu. I was feeling a bit healthy that day so wanted something a little lighter.
Described as char-grilled sea bass, Bombay potatoes, coconut and lime cream with wild garlic. This one came out a bit cooler than I would like, I would have described it as tepid rather than hot. Regardless, they did themselves justice with it as it was a great dish and I’d order it again. I didn’t get much of the coconut or lime flavour from the cream and the Bombay potatoes could have been renamed roast potatoes and I wouldn’t have questioned it. I loved it but it’s not up to its description.
My cheesecake choice for dessert was purely to provide a balanced diet…
I’m a huge lover of cheesecake so this deconstructed passionfruit with white chocolate and granola was singing to me. Unfortunately I didn’t finish it as, again, beautiful presentation, but the taste just wasn’t there. There was a bit too much salt in this for a dessert and it was just a little bland. I didn’t get even notice the passionfruit, it was a bit meh.
I can’t really comment here as we were on a night where everything was not as it would be. The manager did come over and have a chat to us at the end and ask for genuine feedback, which he received. My feedback came in the sense that just because somebody is vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean you have to offer just vegetables. The table then gave him some restaurants to visit where they do awesome vegan and veggie meals so that he could experience hearty, unhealthy and “meaty” dishes.
We also asked that they remove the plastic straws from their cocktails as the waste must be immense. I was very pleased to hear that they had tried a few different options, including metal and paper ones, and the winner had be chosen and would be used within a few weeks. These straws will be biodegradable.
HOCKLEY ARTS CLUB RATING: 5.5/10
£39 pp for a starter, main and a cocktail and mocktail.
I think they’re trying to do the right thing by becoming known for their food as well as their cocktails but they have a way to go in my view. They have the presentation and the descriptions down but the flavours just aren’t there to match. I think if they continue to gather the feedback and enhance their menu as they go along it will be a good path for them. For me it was a case of over promising and under delivering.
Recommended for: couples, small groups
Not recommended for: veggies or vegans just yet
Why not try: the sea bass
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