The Gay UK team are a clean and fastidious bunch, so it seemed perfectly apt we were invited to the opening of a former industrial laundry in the Big Smoke’s hipster hang-out, London Fields.
We didn’t take our dirty smalls, or our scented-passion-flower-and-ylang-ylang Comfort, or indeed pack our Fairy non-bio washing powder. Twists were for martinis, the only things sodden were the guests’ esophaguses from the plentiful cocktails, and only a few lightweight journos were mangled.
Award-winning mixologist and restaurateur Gerry Calabrese has eighteen years experience, and a few distinguished names hanging from his washing-line of achievements. Calabrese is the founder of the Hoxton Pony and his new venture Wringer & Mangle (W&M). Gerry launched Hoxton Gin, and has worked with The British Fashion Council, Mulberry, and Bentley – there are no stains on him.
To enter W&M you walk through a terrace, and past a Moroccan-style den, where lattice fencing, riddled with ivy, sections off an outdoor seating area surrounding a fire pit. Ideal for an aperitif – so we did. Cushions, candles and outdoor heaters will keep you snug as a duvet in a tumble dryer.
First bevvy of the night, The Bramble Collins: Finlandia Vodka with fresh blackberries, sugar syrup, fresh sage, topped with ginger root and honey soda. Earthy, sweet and bitter, with a twinge of woody-ness from the sage. We washed it down.
Walking into the main building, you could be fooled into thinking you’d just entered a high-flying artisan New Yorker’s oversized loft apartment. Concrete ceiling, exposed brick, mismatched tables, a few animal skulls and abstract art cakes the walls. All lit by naked Victorian bulbs and copper lighting – there’s something for the fastwashers, you delicates out there, and for those who just wanna rinse, spin and pump-out – W&M will appeal to the bulk of East London dwellers.
While schmoozing with the trendy-Wendys, happening-hacks and look-at-me-Larrys, canapés were wafted around like incense at a pilgrims’ gathering. Beetroot, goat curd and fig tarts – bland. Mackerel tartar and pickled cucumber – an assertive fishy punch, toned down beautifully by the drunk cucumber – exquisite. Pig’s head terrine and mustard vinaigrette – not too coarse, quality meat, elevated by garlic notes and a grainy sense – yummy.
Our next tipple, The Pre-Wash Collins: Bombay Sapphire, gin-infused cucumber, topped with cucumber and cardamom foam. Its botanical garden aroma teases you first, followed by the texture of a gingery, bubbly lather – then something sweet and spicy happens – the Hotpoint of the night.
Once we’d caught a glimpse of Professor Green and could practically smell the Rizzle Kicks, the mains were being dished out by dishy staff.
Braised lamb shoulder with pearl barley and rosemary – the grain was tender, salty and packed undertones of parsley and onion, complementing the fragrant meat – damn tasty.
Autumnal vegetable stew – root vegetables were brought to life in this bowl of warmth and goodness – a superb veg stew.
Smoked haddock chowder – we were just missing a couple of sporrans and some droning highland melodies – almost as good as Glasgow’s finest.
We’ll definitely be Whirlpool-ing our way back to try their ‘Traditional Roast Sirloin of Beef with all the trimmings’ one Sunday – they’ll be no Wringer-ing out ya purse at only £15 a pop. But they can scrub the phallic communal hand soap in the lavs – we’re not asking for an automatic-washer, just quality washroom hand soap worthy of an old washhouse. We left dry-clean, colour-safe and folded back home nicely – care symbol: regular visits a must.
Wringer & Mangle
REVIEWED BY: Thabian Sutherland
ADDRESS: The Laundry Building, 2-18 Warburton Road, London E8 3FN
RATING: ★★★★ (explained)
COST: £££ (explained)
I’ve lived in the Old Smoke since 1999 with a career in fashion, fitness and events. I discovered the joys of writing beginning of 2014. Since then I’ve been tapping digits to keys. Subjects include food, theatre, exhibitions, London life and other topics that tickle my taste-buds. Other publications include Timeout, Gay Times and So So Gay Magazine.