Apothecary in Shoreditch: A Japanese-inspired tavern opens in East London
Apothecary is a new Izakaya-inspired tavern – the equivalent of a Japanese tapas bar – which has just opened in Shoreditch, taking the place of Merchants Tavern. The venue is named after the historic chemist and warehouse from the Victorian era and it aims at mirroring the animated, sociable atmosphere at these traditional joints whilst also giving a nod to its East London location.
As we enter a post-lockdown world, this new collaboration is a relaxed destination dedicated to drinking, music and Japanese small plates. Translating directly to mean “stay-drink-place”, traditional izakayas famously exude a feeling of happiness and togethernes, which is exactly what Apothecary is set to replicate.
The new restaurant and bar – located on Charlotte Road, a few minutes’ walk from Old Street Station – can accommodate over 100 covers across its intimately connected open-plan space, with an original sapele wood bar top and robata kitchen counter. The interiors reflect a contemporary Tokyo-style tavern through a Shoreditch lens, making use of its original exposed brickwork, wood-burning stove and delicately handcrafted bespoke wooden screens which physically separate the spaces but connect them aurally, whilst celebrating the natural beauty of the dining room.
The cocktail menu has been curated by drinks specialist Hamish Denny (Spiritland, Hawksmoor), and offers up tempting classics with Asian influences such as Whisky Highball (made using Toki whisky, soda and Genmaicha tea); the Sweet Pea Spritz (made with tequila, lemon, sweet pea, soda and absinthe); and the Rhubarb Sbagliato (containing gin, rhubarb, rose, fizz and umami). A range of sakes (both hot and cold) is offered in small “taster size” to encourage customers to try it alongside a range of beers – both local and Japanese – and an extensive wine list.
The food menu is made of Japanese-influenced snacks and small plates, served all day from Apothecary’s open kitchen, and includes a selection of skewers from a robata grill, alongside sushi, sashimi and Hirata steamed buns. First we try the juicy Teriyaki Chicken Thigh Skewers and the Grilled Cauliflowers with Black Sesame Sauce. Sushi rolls – prepared inside-out – are served in eight pieces; we opt for the Spicy Tuna Dragon Roll with Spicy Mayo, an uramaki of prawn and avocado, topped with tuna and spicy mayo, as well as a Sea Bass Ceviche with yuzu soy. While we have a taste of Michisakari Morning Dew Junmai, the last of the dishes comes to the table: a Grilled Blackened Salmon.
A welcoming space that is as open to walk-ins as it is to bookings, the tavern is inclusive to everyone; from large group parties to solo sippers, late night loungers and lunchtime grazers. Guests will find a mix of bar stools, lounge chairs and cosy banquette seating. A 22-cover private dining room will house private events, complete with a record player and sound system where guests can blast out their own vinyl or select from an in-house record library. Apothecary also hosts regular DJ sessions on Friday and Saturday nights.
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Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Apothecary, 36 Charlotte Road London EC2A 3PG, call 020 7060 5335 or visit their website here.