There seems to be two food trends at the moment; that of the avocado-smothered ‘clean eating’ brigade, and then those who prefer their meals big, buttery and dripping in cheese. Dirty Bones is firmly in the latter camp with a menu filled with sticky meat dishes; fried chicken drizzled in maple syrup and bacon sprinkled in sugar and candied. Fortunately the head-stand, yoga Instagrammers haven’t killed our passion for a big blow-out yet, as the restaurant has just opened its third branch in Shoreditch. Yes, you can have a burger for dinner, but the more important question is have you had one for brunch - because I did and now there ain't no going back.
From the Knave of Clubs pub established in 1735, to the infamous Les Trois Garcons restaurant, and now, Dirty Bones, if 1 Club Row’s walls could talk, I’m sure they would have some tales to tell. The New York-style restaurant sits somewhere in between the previous guises, it’s certainly not a rough and ready pub despite its pared-back and simple interiors but it’s not as ostentatious and glitzy as the gold-clad French restaurant, Les Trois Garcons.
Having now been listed, there’s only so much Dirty Bones could do with the building, but that lends to the charm and sense of history. In the middle of the room is what could be one of Shoreditch’s most beautiful bars; grand-theatre style pillars rise from a marble worktop up to the intricate cornicing of the ceiling. Mirrors printed with old-fashioned adverts for whiskies and ales are hung up, and deep, purple, velvet sofas line the walls.
Dirty Bones may try to emulate New York, but this Shoreditch opening feels more like a Victorian parlour or secret drinking den. Against these opulent interiors, the rest of the building is undone and simple; the wooden staircase is rickety and winding, the walls unpainted and in the place of Les Trois Garcons’ swinging chandeliers, pendant ball lights create a low glow.
Food and Drink
Dirty Bones models itself on the American eating scene with big plates of meat-heavy dishes. Avocado on toast was on the menu, but when you could have The Mac Daddy (£10) are you going to waste your precious breakfast option on some healthy nonsense? The burger came in a feathery soft bun topped with gloopy mac n’ cheese and BBQ-flavoured flakes of beef, the kind of gluttony Sunday mornings have stamped all over them. We finished with another dose of heart-attack-inducing goodness, the heavenly Banana Toblerone-tella Waffles (£7.50). Freshly cooked waffles were topped with a crunchy caramelised banana, sugary-sweet blueberry jam and the bourbon ice cream gave it an alcoholic kick.
This is brunch and it’s 11am on a Sunday, of course we’re having cocktails. Feeling ever so slightly fragile, I decided to be sensible with my drinking and combine it with caffeine: a spiked coffee (£6) of three espresso shots, cognac, Mozart Dry Chocolate Spirit and cream on ice. If I wasn't awake before, I certainly was now.
The Uptown Spritz (£8), Bombay Sapphire, Aperol, Campari, Pink Grapefruit and Ginger Ale, was so gingery my mouth felt ever so slightly punished, but was weirdly refreshed after a few sips and a great way to cleanse my palate after a dairy-filled assault.
It was officially the brunching hour in East London and the low-sitting armchairs and sofas quickly filled up with stylish couples and good-looking friends coming in to refuel and gossip. A chilled playlist of hip hop and house soundtracked the stories from the previous night and in the corner a beat-up old cabinet propped up a modern set of DJ decks, hinting at the restaurant's after-dark atmosphere.
Dirty Bones is prime Shoreditch material; it’s in a cool old building, it’s combined that madly luxurious but wonderfully shabby vibe that East London thrives on and the menu is stocked full of guilt-inducing but ‘oh so delicious’ dishes. I have a feeling 1 Club Row’s walls will have plenty more stories to whisper at the hands of their new owners.