By Alastair Sadler
Wringer and Mangle is just a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street station amongst the unremarkable office frontages and Victoriana pubs overflowing with pin striped gentle-lads and patent heeled gentle-ladies. Wringer and Mangle Spitalfields is the second iteration of the successful restaurant, bar and club whose sister venue is in London Fields.
First impression is the striking bar, chrome taps against the backdrop of corrugated iron. An absinthe dispenser and a string of carriage lamps give a touch of French savoir faire while pastel coloured wingchairs and low coffeetables create a comfortable lounge vibe. A wall of empty gilt frames leave a question hanging about a fashion now past or a fashion yet to come.
Separating the bar from the square dining area is a screen of scaffold poles, with shelves made from planks stacked with milk churns and pot plants. Lit by two massive carriage lamps plus a peppering of edison bulbs in kilner jars is the raised area of high bench tables also made from sanded builders boards and surprisingly comfortable high chairs and overlooking the central lower square tables. Even a massive convex mirror staring out like an all-seeing eye cannot draw my attention from the bustle within the open-hatched kitchen.
Then the penny drops. We’re in a yard. Not of the American garden kind but a British backyard, full of the kind of ‘out back’ stuff you’d fine left over from a building works that’s been kept because ‘that’ll come in useful one day.’ These courtyard objets d’art – including quirky stuff simply too good to throw away, such as (honestly!) granny’s old mangel – betray a former glory that’s now chic and makes for a perfect setting for a fun meal.
While we mull over the menu, we nibble on a spicy tapenade atop a crusty sourdough loaf. My starter was a tart, refreshingly flavour-packed hand-chopped steak tartare on smoked mushroom sourdough toast.
That set me up for the rich earthy and splendidly tender Merlot braised beef cheeks with red cabbage and celeriac puree, perfectly complimented by hand cut chips sprinkled with truffle and parmesan, served in what else but a mini bucket.
To finish was a dessert of pure indulgence. Iced chocolate ‘fossil’ – think nugar with chunks of Snickers and Maltesers – with banana salsa drizzled with salted peanut caramel.
Overall, I found the space a refreshing and homey change of mood from the hustle and hassle of the city. The staff were attentive, friendly and knowledgable, and I even got a sneak preview of their function room below which is so psychedelic it’s practically the love child of Barbarella and Austin Powers. Yeah, groovey baby!
To learn more, visit their website at www.wringerandmangle.com
Contributor Alastair Sadler has taught salsa professionally in London since 1995 and created the world’s first Salsa Rapido 1-Day Intensive Salsa Course. His hobby is stand up comedy, and in addition to acting as MC of Streetbeat Comedy’s Quillarious, he regularly takes his show to the Edinburgh Fringe. You’ll find him at www.streetbeat.co.uk.