Bar Review: Little Red Staircase, Shoreditch

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The Little Red Staircase capitalizes on the Hackneyite’s – and by extension the Shoreditchised Londoner’s – fondness for the strip of homely, inexpensive and frankly delicious Vietnamese eateries that line the Kingsland Road.

And when I say capitalize, I mean capital ‘S’ for Saigon, as in the barely postcolonial feel of this ‘micro’ cocktail bar dotted with wooden pillars and pendant lamps. The buzz was palpable and convivial, the crowd is young and trendy, staff are charmingly keen, and the air itself was alive with activity, making this the next spot to visit in coolest nook of the coolest borough on the planet.

The cocktails were subtle but superb infusions of Southeastern Asian influence on old Anglo-American favs. The Vijito for example is made exquisite with passionfruit and prosecco. The Viet Royal combines the richness of plum wine with the herbal complexity of aloe vera jasmine tea topped with perennially festive bubbly. The bevvy de resistance for me though was the Indochina, a combination of bourbon, a palate sprinkling of autumnal apple and spicy kick to add fire.

Perhaps most surprising was the high quality of their tapas style food offerings. Grilled pork butt and lime was succulent, tender and packed with pizzazz, and combining a morsel with thinly sliced pickled apple and the crunchy texture of Na Hang Mountain pepper sea salt dip was a gourmand’s culinary excursion with every mouthful. Contrary to expectation (of chewiness), the salt and chilli squid was crispy, tasty and the red eye mayo was piquantly moreish.

My only complaint? It is a hot spot, if you can find a spot. The prefix ‘micro’ doesn’t quite do it justice. As Little Red is in its early days, it doesn’t yet seem to know how to divide up the attention between mother restaurant Viet Grill and the fairly awesome cocktails and bites. The demarcation line between area for cocktails and the area to wait for a downstairs table for Viet Grill didn’t seem all that obvious to customers or staff.

Having said that, brave the crowds for the experience, because they have created something special that feels quite new.

Like Vietnamese on the Kingsland Road? Looking for a place with atmosphere and class and to delight the tastebuds? You’ll love this charming little place!

About Pete Lawler

Pete Lawler I was born in the USA, but I’ve lived, learned, and taught in London for the last 8 years. I reckon that makes me as much of a Londoner as anyone here. There are all kinds of Londoners.

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