Leaving East London fills me with dread; my palms sweat, my brow gets clammy and my feet start to tingle. This is not due to my love of overpriced macchiatos and cans of Gamma Ray beer. No, it is due to my sheer laziness which is compounded by the thought of getting on the tube, and Mayfair, with its stereotype of suits and stilettos, does nothing to expel my slothfulness. Perhaps that’s why I need to leave my little area more often, for bars like The Social, which is a cool and quirky central London spot worth braving Old Street Tube station at 6pm for.
Oxford Street is manic and chaotic, only navigated by the brave and foolish five weeks before Christmas. But push through the frenzied shoppers and idle strollers to escape onto Little Portland Street, a complete paradox from the madness of London’s busiest shopping street moments away. The Social is a teeny tiny bar and club spread over two floors. The ground floor is taken up entirely by a wooden-decked bar; vintage-style band posters hang on the wall and people cram on either the deep leather booths or on one of the few bar stools.
Downstairs, a dimly lit subterranean space hosts intimate band nights. Equally as narrow as its upstairs counterpart, the club room is lit by a soft blue glow and dotted with little tables. At the end, a small dancefloor edges onto the stage and DJ decks, touching distance from the audience, while a projector flickers old movies onto the wall behind the bar.
Food & Drink
As with everything at The Social, simplicity reigns supreme and the food menu is no different. London food blogger turned burger supremo Burgerac cooks up a selection of goodies in his Burgershack. The Chickenshack (£9.50) was a juicy chunk of fried chicken slathered in mayo and American cheese, while the Southern Seoul Chickenshack (£9.50) was similarly tender but dripping in a spicy and rich Korean Sauce. Order a side of Hot’N’Blue Fries (£4) which are covered in spicy buffalo sauce, made bearable by the creamy blue cheese.
Cocktails are juicy and largely gin-filled; Bumblebee (£9) made with Beefeater, fresh raspberries, lime and honey was like summer in a glass and dangerously drinkable. Bramble (£9) was in a tall glass and made with gin, blackberry liqueur and fresh lime while the chocolate-truffle-like Armenian Plum (£9) was a rich mix of apricot jam and liqueur with brandy and fresh lime.
If you were worried that Central London wasn’t quite cool enough for you, don’t be because The Social has more edge than a Hackney vintage records sale on a Sunday morning. Exceedingly tall and exceptionally good looking guys and girls crowded round the entrance swigging cocktails and smoking, before heading downstairs to play a set with their band.
Downstairs, model-like girls and student-type guys swayed on the dancefloor to the sounds of indie rock from up-and-coming bands which included The Modern Strangers, Childcare and L.A Spring. The Beeb was in for a special night of Tuesday Hopscotch and cameramen jostled through the crowd filming the particularly gorgeous. As the sets changed, a Santa-Claus-esque DJ with a white beard filled the pause with chilled house music before a bubbly BBC presenter bounced onto the stage to introduce each act.
The Social is a little pocket of originality and fun, moments from the chainstores of Oxford Circus, which, despite its Fitzrovia location, is completely unpretentious and welcoming. Head there after a particularly taxing shopping trip or for post-work shenanigans as their sugary sweet cocktail menu gets you going and the downstairs room keeps you dancing until the early hours.