3 June 2017

Hanging out at Oslo, Hackney

I live and work in south west London. It suits me fine. I like the pace, the greenery, the pilates studios and the suburban feel of it all. But if I want to go out and explore, I always look to east London. There's always something new, something kooky, something interesting to experience.

After an early evening of vodka cocktails and light bites at Our London Distillery, we ventured over to OSLO to try out their new summer cocktail menu.

If you haven't been before, OSLO is literally a hop, skip and jump from Hackney Central. Described as a 'scandi haven' (all the rage at the moment), it lures you in with its dim lighting and low hum of music escaping from the arched entrance. Kind of a hipster type of hygge.

As soon as you walk in, you're met with these funny-looking lights (which look as if I could have made them myself, admittedly); which could only be situated in Hackney. Top points for originality, OSLO.

By day, I imagine light floods through the ceiling height arch windows, reminiscent of the building's warehouse past. However, by night the lighting is low, with carefully placed spotlights against the exposed brick walls, and simple flowers on wooden tables.

Each cocktail, priced at a reasonable £8, has an accompanying quote, such as 'One martini is just right, two is too many, three is not enough' - James Thurber. We opted for a Green Mistress - new to the cocktail menu. With Fox's Gin, Green chartreuse ;iqueur, Vanilla syrup, Elderflower and Rose syrup, Egg white and fresh lemon juice, it was sweet, but not too sweet. The zesty lemon juice balanced the syrups, with the egg white making it a little frothy. The Poppy Mojito is a twist on your standard mojito, with a dash of poppy syrup to snazz it up. It was, I'm told, very good - the poppy was very subtle.

 The 'Green Mistress'
The 'Poppy Mojito'

But pretty soon, I became distracted by the food menu...

I couldn't resist the sound of the Roasted Spatchcock chicken, served with crunchy tenderstem brocolli and herb potatoes, topped with a hefty disk of garlic butter.

Just look at that bad boy

Ohmygosh guys, it was so good. So-o-o-o-o good; really succulent chicken, soft, melt-in-your-mouth potatoes, and all that butter. Mmmm.

I was told the Grilled chicken and Roquefort salad, with Roquefort cheese, crispy smoked bacon, garlic croutons (oh yeah, we both smelled great) and cheese dressing - was similarly delicious... but I think I definitely won on the food front. 100% recommend. 100% would order again.

We nursed our cocktails - they're pretty strong - and were encouraged by a very friendly waitress to order another. Upon her suggestion, I went for a traditional Mai Tai, and my guest went for a new summer addition: the 'Aviation'. This consisted of Tanqueray gin, Luxardo Marachino liqueur and Violette liqueur.

The lights dimmed considerable more before I was served my drink, so unfortunately all I have is this fuzzy photo...

They set the sugar in my Mai Tai on fire, allowing me to dissolve it myself. Nothing like a bit of showmanship to get your excited pre-cocktail, ey?

The impressive drinks, plus a snippet of the craft beers on offer

After I've reviewed somewhere on a complimentary basis, I always consider whether I would have been happy to cover the bill myself. Honestly, the answer is often 'no' - but Oslo is a genuine exception. The cocktails and food are reasonably priced, and completely worth the money. The service we experienced was also really friendly, which was the cherry on top.

Even though it's nowhere near my neighbourhood, I've already asked friends who live that way to come and visit Oslo later in the summer. Top points all around, really.

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