The gap between Shoreditch and Liverpool Street feels a bit like Checkpoint Charlie. Not just because when you’re crossing that interchange at the start of Shoreditch High Street you are putting your life firmly in god’s hands, but the atmosphere and attitude changes completely too. Hipster on one end; city on the other. Which makes Drake and Morgan a bit brave to plonk The Allegory pretty much on the contested borderland between the two - well, either brave or very smart, so I took a trip there to find out.
Venue and Atmosphere
After hopping off the bus from Hoxton, I was greeted with the floor-to-ceiling, tinted black windows of The Allegory that just screamed ‘city bar’. And it was a similar response once I walked through the door, with a hefty amount of suited post-work drinkers talking over the DJ, seated at the mismatched-patterned seats that ran parallel to the long bar. I was slightly worried about eating a meal with the DJ playing his #sicktunes, but as we turned a corner into the restaurant section, the music was at a manageable level. However, it’s the cool artwork lining the walls here and upstairs that stop it from feeling manufactured, which is a nice touch.
It was very busy on the Thursday my friend and I visited, with the bar area outweighing the restaurant. Despite this, it was easy to hold a conversation. The crowd here stayed around the late twenties/early thirties age group.
Food and Drink
Before we even looked at the food, we both opted for a bottle of Cotes du Rhone, Vignobles Gonnet (£27.50), a gorgeous red wine that was the kind of drinkable where you spend most of the evening wondering why your glass was suddenly empty – and it happened to be the wine of the week, so it’s safe to say you can trust their opinions on grapes.
Shaking off the cold with a healthy dose of booze, it was time to fill our bellies. For starters, I chose the prawn lollipops (£6.95) with sweet chilli and soy, while my pal opted for the crab bruschetta (£7.95), which was brown & white crab with lemon. The prawns were tasty (though tasted slightly overdone) and, unlike many sweet chilli sauces, the dip remembered that it included chilli, which was fab for my taste buds. The crab was great too; fresh and they weren’t stingy with the portions either.
Pleased with the starter, we stared at the semi-open kitchen in anticipation for our main courses. My friend umm’d, he ahh’d, but like a jealous little brother he eventually gave up and copied me by ordering the seabass (£13.95) with braised fennel, spinach and chorizo. We also ordered roman fries (£4.50), with parmesan, truffle and rosemary, because I charge head-first at anything with truffle on it like Toro the Bull at Bugs Bunny.
The seabass was cooked very well: flaky and juicy, with the skin that wonderful kind of crunchy that only professional chefs manage to get just right. I’d only say that it could have been cooked with a bit more salt, but otherwise great. You'd think that the strong, meaty flavours of the chorizo would overpower the gentler flavours of the seabass, but they worked really well together here - a true odd couple.
Skipping over dessert in favour of drinks, I ordered an Old Fashioned (£9.95) and my friend opted for the Negroni (£8.95). Mine was smoky and strong – as in, exactly how I like my cocktails – and the negroni managed to convert my devout beer-drinking companion over to cocktails. When you have good cocktails, it's the ideal end to a good meal.
The Allegory is a lively drinking den. The drinks are good and the prices, across the board, are very reasonable, which explains why it’s so popular already. It's pretty much the perfect venue for post-work drinks or a catch up with friends.