Hattie Lloyd 05/09/23
Itinerary Location: Dalston | Duration: 6 Hours
It’s been a while since we’ve put together a Dalston itinerary, mainly because it could pretty much read ‘pop in anywhere along Kingsland High Street’, and you’d have a good time.
But in honour of the sacrifices someone, somewhere, has clearly been making to the weather gods recently, we’ve decided to craft a little evening based around one of our favourite outdoor spots in London.
Along the way, you’ll learn to cut a rug, ’40s style; enjoy a flame-kissed feast at a brewery; and wind up with a nightcap at a (multi award-winning) local.
Let’s begin at…
ACME Fire Cult was founded by Andrew Clarke and Daniel Watkins, two chefs who worship at the altar of the grill – and now the place has got quite the following of its own. And no wonder, since it’s basically the dictionary definition of a summer restaurant: a (mainly) al fresco BBQ joint with a flame-kissed menu, fresh beers on tap, and a cocktail slushy machine working overtime in the corner.
It’s hard to resist the lure of just slinging huge cuts of meat onto the grill, but ACME stands out for giving veg equal billing on the menu (try the coal-roasted celeriac with mushroom XO on for size). We’re not exaggerating about the fresh beers, either: ACME shares the space with one of London’s best breweries, 40FT. Aside from the fact you can enjoy their beers fresh from the tanks, you’ll also find the two harmonising over dishes like the chocolate & hazelnut ganache, drizzled with beer molasses, and their famous ‘marmite’ butter made with leftover brewers’ yeast (and spread over sourdough freshly baked at The Dusty Knuckle round the corner).
Split between small plates, larger plates, and limited daily specials, the menu leaves you to decide when you’re full (which you’ll be thankful for when you hit the third stop on this itinerary). So once you’ve had your fill, head left out of the courtyard, snake down Ashwin Street, and swing a left. Next to the Hackney Peace Carnival mural, you’ll spot a small door in a large black fence.
Go through it.
An army of fairies would struggle to create a woodland glade as charming as the Dalston Curve Garden. It owes its unusual name to the plot of land it inhabits (a stretch of former railway line recovered by nature), and its verdant abundance to a fleet of hard-working staff and local volunteers who tend to the trees, plants and vegetable plots that cover almost every square foot of the land. Where there isn’t greenery, there’s bark chips, and – more excitingly – a random assortment of tables and chairs that can accommodate a surprising number of people, who gather to enjoy a drink or two in this secluded oasis.
The shed bars are well stocked, and on Tuesday evenings they host Woodburner evenings of live music, which could see you listening to anything from alt-soul to traditional Ghanaian music while the sun sets behind the trees. But if you’re following this itinerary at the end of the week, you won’t be missing out – polish off your drinks, and retrace your steps up Ashwin St.
The Arcola should take a bow. This paint-factory-turned-fringe-theatre stages a staggering number of shows every year, many of which draw serious critical acclaim – and impressively, they operate a pay-what-you-can ticket scheme to ensure they’re open to everyone. If their current productions don’t pique your interest, though, it’s still well worth dropping by on a Friday night, because the atmosphere in the bar is electric.
The drinks (decently priced) mostly hail from local breweries, there’s ice cream, and on the third Friday of every month, it plays host to one of London’s biggest swing dance nights. The evening always kicks off with a lesson between 8 and 10pm so you can learn the ropes – then as the night wears on, the lights are turned down, a live band pitches up in the corner, and hot jazz blasts out onto the street. It’s one of those glorious moments where people of all generations and backgrounds get together, and cut loose after a long week.
The night goes on until 2 in the morning, but if you find yourself in need of rehydration before then, you can squeeze in one last stop along the route…
Three Sheets is Dalston’s friendly, local multi-award winning cocktail bar. Over the years it’s scooped accolades from the UK’s best bar at CLASS to a long-standing ranking in the World’s 50 Best, and it’s all down to one simple premise: a short, regularly changing cocktail menu with three sections, and three drinks in each. This constant evolution means that no visit here is the same – one week, you might be sipping a Strawberry Daiquiri infused with woodruff and coriander; another, a Rhubarb & Tuberose spritz. Each drink can take weeks to prepare, from fermenting fruit cordials to infusing spirits in-house.
And after your first sip, you’ll agree that it’s worth it.
➊ ACME Fire Cult | Abbot Street Car Park, E8 3DP
➋ Dalston Curve Garden | 13 Dalston Lane, London E8 3DF
➌ The Arcola | 24 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL
➍ Three Sheets | 510b Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AB
Enjoyed your tour of Dalston? Check out more Nudge Itineraries
Starts at ACME Fire Cult, Abbot Street, Dalston, E8 3DP
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