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21 August 2015

Drive ins, Dinerama and Dives in Shoreditch, London


Dinerama is the new Fawkes (first and last Harry Potter reference of the post). 

Like a phoenix it came and was beautiful, then it burnt down and now it's been reborn. I've yet to go see the second coming, but the week before part of Dinerama caught fire my friends and I shuffled over to Shoreditch to do as all cool kids do on a Saturday night; eat, drink and cause a ruckus. It was just me causing trouble, I was involved in the accidental knockage of a ladies pint into her handbag. Small space + clumsy me = angry handbag woman (all smoothed over with a replacement pint). Dinerama is a Night Food Market in Shoreditch and the latest venture from the folks behind Street Feast, it's been controversial (see Rachel Phipps review here), it's been dramatic (hello second fire of London) but it's also been my favourite of their inventions so far.

This statement in itself is going to cause some controversy but there's no denying it. I didn't like Hawker House, I enjoyed Dalston Yard (see my review from last year here) and I've yet to visit Model Market (I've got my eye on you Scoopsy Daisy), but I already know Dinerama is my winner. Maybe it's because there's more spaces and separate tables to sit at, as opposed to the one long bagsy-ed table at Hawker House, or because the vibe is a lot more relaxed (I mean there's a Tikki rum bar) or because all the food is clustered together in one place (it's like they know me). Or maybe it's because I just had such a good night there with all of my favourite people (except you of course, we'll do something soon), who knows! It's probably a combo job. 







There was a huge group of us at Dinerama, so to kick things off we migrated towards the Big Bar. The inclusion of prosecco in the Big Fizz meant that was the only choice for me. Partnered with gin, elderflower and cucumber, this was my perfect cocktail, refreshing, clean with a big fizzy hit of prosecco that left me heady and feeling tipsy before the night had even begun. Luckily I was in the perfect place to grab some food to soak up some of the booze. We grabbed some drinks with two of our pals, Alex (pictured above looking super happy) went for the Dinerama Cooler with tequila, lime, agave syrup, peach and pineapple, while my boyfriend Dan's other lover, Louie, went for a Brit Spritz with Kamm & Sons, elderflower, prosecco and soda. Not going to lie, me and Dan picked the winning beverage.

First cocktail of the night down, Louie and I went in search of meat. Juicy, fall off the bone brisket from Smokestak was calling to us and of course we have to sling it in a brioche bun with some pickled chilli to fill us up before the next round. This is some of the best brisket I've ever had and a mean brioche bun. Together it was sloppy (in a good way) tender brisket, sweet toasted brioche with vinegary pickled chilli peppers. So we may have got splattered with a bit of brisket juice when we were queueing up at at Smokestak from the woman with a giant cleaver, but it was 100% worth it.








A trip upstairs to the gin bar led to lots of Rico's Pink Ladies with gin, orange, pomegranate and elderflower. And of course with a light cocktail we needed some light treats to accompany it. Course that meant some pillowy marshmallow soft bao from Yum Bun with delicious pork belly, salad and crispy-coated prawns. This was followed by some Rainbo pork filled gyozas, edamame beans and salad, personally I would rather have gone for some more brisket but hey it was Dan's choice and he's a health freak (he's not, he's just an edamame bean freak). Too healthy for a drink-filled evening I moved on to more laughing, an apple spiked gin cup and there may have been a chilli back involved. Tequila with a shot of jalapenos, it's a deadly way to start a night but it happened. 

In danger of doing my liver some serious damage, we chilled out. Sprawled on the fake grass roof we gossiped, made Summer plans and kept nipping downstairs to grab more food from the street stalls below. I think the main thing Dinerama has over the other Street Feast venues I've visited is atmosphere, when I went to Urban Food Fest it literally felt like a festival and Dinerama has that same kind of relaxed air except there are no floral headbands or Native Indian headdress. I mean I would have worn one but it just wasn't the time, and I would have stuck out like a childish fairy amongst the super cool, super clean cut, super crowd at Dinerama.







For me the drinks stopped flowing at the chilli back and I turned to more serious discussion points. BBQ Lab's chicken wings. Everything we ate at Dinerama was delicious, but these chicken wings (and the brisker) were stupendous! Coated in a chilli sauce, these wings are mother hecking spicy but at the same time so gooooood. I had mine with blue cheese and some pickles, and after that I'll never look back. I'm never going to create hot wings at home unless they're served with blue cheese, and as for eating out there's only one wing serving stand for me. I've heard great things about BBQ Lab's other wares but have yet to sample them. However, now the second coming is finally upon us I'll be heading back to Dinerama real soon.

Dinerama is an instagrammers dream night out. Rainbow lights, pretty pink and blue striped cups, graffiti and burgers galore, it is by far one of the prettiest markets in town. I want to steal all the diamond pendant lights and string them up in my house. First I need to stop renting and buy a house so I can actually make permanent changes to the décor that don't involve blue tack but all in good time (it's part of the 5 year plan). Anyway to sum up the décor at Dinerama it's so insta.





Towards the end of the night I realised two things, one Louie was seriously drunk and two so was Dan. This became more apparent when I asked Dan to take a picture of me and my girlfriends, and all I got back was a photo of the floor. Likewise when Louie refused to share the doughnuts we bought together with Dan, Dan tried to drunkly grab the doughnut in Louie's hand and whacked the whole lot to the floor. But I'm getting ahead of myself before doughnuts came Indian style tandoori fish at Shack Tandoor, a Baba G creation.

Realising Dan and Louie were in dire need of sustenance we all headed over to Shack Tandoor, I had wandered over earlier to grab a tandoori spiced scallop served with fried cubes of celeriac and a celeriac puree. First of all, celeriac is a massively under rated vegetable, it is delicious in every way, in a gratin, roasted, covered with cream and cheese in a dauphinoise. The scallops (yes there were multiple ones all for less than £10, absolute bargain!) were perfectly cooked. I know everyone says oh yes it's perfectly cooked, but they really were, juicy but crispy on the outside. For the boys I felt like chips was a good option for them, so they went for Tandoori monkfish with a coriander sauce on a bed of fried chippies. Louie being the journalist he is (a show off and a flirt) wrangled some more chips out of the server. The monkfish was delicately spiced with a deliciously zingy coriander sauce, and let's be honest chips are chips but they did the boys some much needed goodness. Shack Tandoor had some of the most interesting food of the night and the kind I'd pay big bucks for in a sit down establishment. Even Alex a self confessed fish hater ate some!

Doughnuts from You Doughnut followed our fishy meal, and for me and Louie they had to be coated in cinnamon sugar and pecans, and drizzled with toffee sauce. Pecans in a dessert are the best, I mean I'd be close to putting them at my favourite nut. They certainly beat pistachios but I'm not so sure about peanuts. I mean think of all the great peanut dishes; satay, peanut butter, topped on any asian style dish you've ever had, in an icing, peanut is the ultimate nut. Anyway back to the doughnuts, having worked in a beach cafe when I was younger alongside various stints in pubs and most notably as a butcher (yes I wore the hat), I can solemnly swear that a warm fresh fried doughnut might be the best thing the world has ever seen. Tossed in cinnamon sugar is my fave way to eat doughnuts, although let's be honest I'm never going to kick a Crosstown Doughnut off my plate (three words: meringue jam doughnut, see that beauty here). You Doughnuts make me nostalgic for those couple of Summers I spent working frying doughnuts, one for me, one for the customer. It was a good system and a good time, coincidentally it was also before I met Dan. I wonder what would have happened without him (I know what would have happened - Ultimate Doughnut Shop).

I'd definitely recommend heading down to Dinerama on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, and checking it out with a gang of your nearest and dearest. I've heard they've got a couple new food stalls so some of our delicious food may no longer be on offer. They're open till the beginning of October so head down there soonish. In fact, I might see you there. What d'you reckon, couple of chicken wings, a G&S (soda) and a lot of gossip? I'm in!


Luckily my friend Alex wasn't too drunk to snap this rare photo of me and Dan, and more importantly my gorgeous skirt. I love this skirt so much, you know if I've worn this out and I'm with you it means two things; 1) I think you're pretty special and 2) I'm here to party (this is my party skirt people). I am going to try having a go at making those BBQ Lab chicken wings at home, if anyone has any cracking recipes drop me a comment below. The question is do I go for chilli or straight sriracha? Or do I double dose and go with both. That might be dangerous, mouth burning, eye blinding kind of dangerous. If anyone has been to Dinerama since it reopened let me know what you think and more importantly what new stands are there, is it worth a second trip?