Turns out Guns 'n’ Roses got it wrong; Paradise Row, not Paradise City is the place you want to be. Down this cobbled side-street in East London you’ll find an impressive line-up of trendy food joints and late night drinking dens in the characteristic railway arches of Bethnal Green. I visited Resident of Paradise Row to see what makes it stand out amongst its neighbours.
The Venue and Atmosphere
Without even entering the venue, I was already planning a return trip to enjoy a summer drink on the large patio out-front. Merging with the outside space of the other bars and restaurants, the courtyard radiates a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Alas, being a rainy evening in April, tonight was not the time for alfresco anything, so we made our way inside.
With its high, arched ceiling and glass-wall entrance Resident of Paradise Row feels spacious and airy. Except for the plastic foliage covering parts of the walls and colourful art-work for sale in the bathroom, the décor is kept to a minimum and turns your focus to the industrial design of the bar which takes centre stage. At the back of a room there’s mezzanine overlooking the restaurant that newly homes a bars’ best friend: the pool table. Having dedicated more time at university to playing pool than getting a degree, I greatly admire any London haunt that gives up the opportunity for extra dining space to reward customers this fading form of classic, pub fun.
The Food and Drink
The restaurant serves modern British dishes and offers a range of menus depending on the day of the week. Whether looking for an after-work bite, bottomless brunch or hearty Sunday Roast, the Resident has got your stomach's best interest in mind.
Eating from the mid-week menu, we kicked the evening off with a selection of cocktails and small plates. The Smoked Pork Croquettes with BBQ beer sauce were generous in size and packed a rich, meaty punch whilst the Fried Squid with naga chilli mayo (£8) was a lighter alternative and offered an appetising juxtaposition of crispy batter, soft fish and spicy kick in each mouthful.
Although simple in presentation, the intriguing flavour combinations of the cocktails are much more complex. We were sold on the smooth Resident Rose Sour (Rose Champagne Syrup, Lemon, Woodford Reserve, sugar, egg white) and smoky Charred Fig Sour (Sweet figs, fig liqueur, Dewar’s Whisky 12yo, lemon, sugar, egg whites). In the latter, the figs had been charred on the grill and infused within the whisky to enhance the flavours, this created an original blend that I hope is still on the menu for my next visit.
To follow I chose the Apple smoked old spot Pork Belly with spring greens, roasted apple and black pudding chutney, braising liquor and crackling. The tangy chutney was the perfect accompaniment for the tender pork belly and the juicy crackling left me too satisfied to feel guilty. My guest ordered the smoked corn fed chicken, sweet potato fries, jalapeno relish and pickled slaw. The tender chicken was encased in smoky, crispy skin and for a mere £15 (half bird) defeated us both. To complement, the knowledgeable waiter recommended a lightly fruity and refreshing Les Mougeottes Chardonnay.
Serving up hearty British dishes in a shabby-chic environment, Resident of Paradise Row knows that flavour combinations speak louder than over the top décor. The simplistic setting is counterbalanced by the lively staff and bonuses such as the outdoor space and pool table. I try to never return to the same bar or restaurant twice, but for the Resident I am going to have to make an exception.