Alfred Leroy Canal Cruises

Crate Brewery was started up by a brother and sister duo from New Zealand who hoped to bring some of their jolly kiwi drinking culture and fun to East London’s deserted canals. The success was almost instant as local hipsters flocked to enjoy a pint and a pizza overlooking the River Lea.

This Spring, the Crate team have found a new innovative way to utilise their waterside asset, offering guests a cruise along the city canals in a charming boat. The Alfred Leroy has been beautifully restored and now functions perfectly as a boat-bar, serving well mixed cocktails and delicious charcuterie boards, cheeses from Neal’s Yard and bread from E5 Bakehouse. Crate’s celebrated range of craft beers and house-made cider are also served on board.

The boat is named after a legendary 70s pub landlord and boat driver, and it’s a name that suits this enchanting vehicle perfectly. Visitors can admire Hackney Wick from the water and enjoy the British summer from this lovely summer hang-out. The journey passes iconic London landmarks such as the Olympic Stadium and picturesque areas like Springfield Park and Warwick Reservoir.

Cruises take place every weekend and tickets cost £40 for a two hour trip round the canals including a charcuterie and cheese board and two cocktails. During the week the boat will be moored outside the brewery and available for private hire.

More information and book a tour here.

Paradise Garage, Bethnal Green

paradise garageparadise garageparadise garageparadise garageparadise garageparadise garageparadise garageparadise garage

Paradise Garage is the third restaurant from Robin Gill & co; the team behind acclaimed Clapham restaurants, The Dairy and The Manor. Their first East London venture is found at Arch 254 on the popular  Paradise Row in Bethnal Green. Nearby to my favourite Sunday flower market at Columbia Road this eatery was the perfect pitstop for lunch a few weeks ago.
The staff are personable and quirky and quickly ushered us to a quiet corner table. The large dining room has a industrial feel, smartened up with the floral adorned tables. A feature bar takes centre stage and I’m sure many with visit just to try the accomplished cocktails on offer. I tried a Black & Stormy, a short strong drink made with Mount Gay BB rum, pineapple syrup, lime & ginger ice cube. It was perfectly balanced with a spicy kick from the melting flavoured ice and a rim of sugar granules.

Starving from our morning meandering we chose promptly from the tapas style menu…
Sourdough Bread with whiskey butter
Pork, Black Pepper & Apple Salumi £6.5
Grilled Sweetcorn, Hemp Seed&Savoury £5
Globe Artichokes, Padron Peppers, Fresh Curd, Herb & Chilli Salsa £8.5
Iberico Presa, Pig Head, Borlotti Beans, Anchovy &Lettuce £11.5

Caramelised White Chocolate, Strawberries, Raspberry & Lemon Verbena £7
The food was all innovative and delicious, similar in style to the sister restaurants. Head chef Simon Woodrow was previously with Michelin-starred Arbutus and his finesse with food shines through. Our favourites were the simple sweetcorn with nutty seeds and a contrasting yoghurty sauce and the rich and special Pork that almost felt healthy accompanied by creamy beans and refreshing grilled lettuce. The artichokes are a wonderful vegetarian option, a blissful combination of textures and tastes, including a particularly addictive herby salsa.
I felt this menu was proudly representing the season of summer, utilising all the ingredients you would hope to see in the warm summer months. Just when I thought the delicious food was over we were delivered a delectable dessert of caramelised white chocolate with vibrant red fruits and a tangy lemon hint. It was a wonderful palate cleanser and satisfied my sweet tooth.
Of the three Robin Gill & co restaurants my favourite is The Manor. That said Paradise Garage is hard to fault, and it is certainly nice to see another inventive eatery in the Bethnal Green area, which is fast becoming one of my favourite boroughs of London.
More information and book a table at Paradise Garage here.

Adventures of the Black Square, Whitechapel Gallery

‘Adventures of the Black Square’ is a rather ominous, but intriguing title for an exhibition. The Whitechapel Gallery is showcasing an important selection of abstract art from the last 100 years.

The selection of works is varied, giving a thorough overview of this often misunderstood genre. It begins with an example of the renowned Kazimir Malevich black square; a simple statement, the icon of suprematism and an ode to the colour black. The exhibition proceeds chronologically reaching the current day in the final rooms. The works are split into four themes: Utopia, Architectonics, Communication and the Everyday. We see how abstraction is approached differently through a wide range of media including painting, drawing, photography and video.

For me it was exciting to experience a wide range of works which I have never seen before, exhibited together as an effective narrative. I loved the geometric works, a striking colourful composition by Piet Mondrian (with an accompanying film of the artist’s studio), and lesser known works like Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s woven wall hanging, a pattern of shapes carefully sewn from Pearl cotton.

The development of abstraction across the globe indicates the influences that connect the works. The Russian Constructivist ideals in the early 20thcentury works are revisited in later works, for example Zvi Goldstein’s glorified megaphones emphasising the importance of communication in society. David Batchelor’s Monochrome Archive particularly stuck in my head, a series of photographs taken over a 20 year period, capturing square and rectangular panels, all accidentally encountered on walks through cities all over the world. Individually they are plain and uninteresting, but together they present a captivating and serene composition.

My mind was whirling after an hour observing the shapes, colours and textures. An extensive study of the history of abstract art, ‘Adventures of the Black Square’ is about so much more than the title initially suggests.

Exhibition continues until 6 April, more information and book tickets here.