Oval Space is well known as an events space and nightclub, and their Saturday 'day and night' parties are much-loved among the London clubbing crowd. What it is less known for, and more the pity, is as a great spot for a chilled out summer's afternoon, and a place to sit and enjoy great food and drinks on their excellent rooftop terrace.
On my visit to Oval Space, that is exactly what I did.
Hidden away down a quiet side-street, about five minutes' walk from Bethnal Green, is a large, white, warehouse-style building that forms the Oval Space. We crossed through the cool, concrete underbelly of the building and made our way up the metal staircase, emerging onto the open space of the venue’s sun-soaked rooftop terrace. This is a fantastic spot, half under-cover and with plenty of room. Long wooden benches and trestle tables are positioned out in the sun, with the DJ booth and bar standing towards the back.
The view from the terrace is certainly dramatic - and oddly peaceful. It overlooks the vast Hackney Road gasworks, disused now for many years yet still forming a rather iconic East London landmark. The sun was shining over all of it on this warm summer’s afternoon, and we chose a good spot at one of the tables to sit and enjoy the view and take in the chilled-out, pleasant atmosphere.
Food and Drinks
The man behind Oval Space’s summer pop-up is the critically-acclaimed Oded Oren, a Tel Aviv-born chef whose signature Mediterranean and Israeli inspired dishes really are something to shout about. It’s exactly what you want to be eating on a hot summer’s afternoon, and the Oval Space Terrace is the perfect setting for it. The lovely, fresh ingredients and summery vibe running throughout the menu almost convinced me that I was somewhere in the Mediterranean - as did the shocking sunburn I managed to unwittingly acquire by the end of the afternoon!
The Israeli influences also really shone through. We loved the use of herbs and garlic in all the dishes, beginning with the oh-so-ripe, juicy chopped tomatoes served with rich, homemade tahini and sourdough (£5). The great flavour of all the grilled dishes was also fantastic, including the cauliflower steak, labneh and parsley pesto (£9) and the spicy fish kebabs, sweet peppers and soured cream (£12). The lamb kebab, green tahini and fresh herbs in pita (£9) was also full of flavour and delicious, and the grilled octopus, Greek yoghurt and harissa (£10) was fab - an interesting addition which worked well with the gorgeous homemade harissa. Even the simple green salad, radishes, citrus vinaigrette (£6) was well presented and deliciously done with subtle vinaigrette and chopped almonds on top.
Over the course of the afternoon we also sampled some of the cocktails on offer. These include the Italia 78, a gin-based cocktail sweetened with rhubarb bitters, elderflower and prosecco - definitely a new favourite of mine - and the very refreshing Cucumber Collins. The food and the drinks were both great, and I really couldn't think of a better way to spend the rest of a sunny July weekend than sitting out on the terrace sinking a few drinks, enjoying the music and relaxed atmosphere.
On a Sunday lunchtime a great DJ set was already playing - nothing too crazy, it fit the mood well whilst keeping up the venue's buzzy, trendy vibe. As the afternoon progressed, more people started to arrive and took up spots on the sunny terrace. During the day the terrace still attracts a cool East London crowd but ranges from the venue's usual partygoers and groups of twenty-something friends, to young families and Bethnal Green locals.
It really is a great spot and the team behind the bar are lovely. In my opinion you really couldn’t choose a better space and nicer atmosphere to sit and enjoy the summer sun on a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon.
Great cocktails, a fantastic team, and delicious food. Grab some mates, head down to the Oval Space Terrace for the afternoon or as the sun is just beginning to set, and order plenty of this yummy summer fare as you enjoy some drinks and soak up the great atmosphere being served up at Oval Space.