By Sarah Howell
Where better to go in Dalston on a dreary Wednesday evening when you need some nourishment or a glass of something stronger then The Dead Dolls Club? Sandwiched between an Indian restaurant and a fish and chip shop on Dalston’s Kingsland Road, this small, unassuming venue is the first permanent outpost for the club’s pop-up bar concept, run by Katy Gray Rosewarne and Adam Towner.
Although The Dead Dolls Club began life in 2010 as a Hackney design collective, the talented duo rapidly expanded into the popular area of pop-ups, setting up a cocktail club with a penchant for collaboration. In 2011, they worked with The Stewhouse, bringing warm food to wintery Londoners, and during the Olympic summer they combined forces with London Fields Brewery.
Dalston is the club’s first permanent residence.“We wanted to have more of a presence,” says Katy, “and when this place came up, we thought why not?” After a design overhaul, including a two week period when Katy illustrated the dining area, the venue opened in October 2012. Part cocktail bar, part restaurant, the club is “about creating an environment where everyone can be creative,” she explains. “The drawings on the walls are like a grand dining room in a manor house, and we want our cocktails to evoke stories featuring characters who would live in the house.
“So the Lady of the Manor cocktail has Prosecco in it, the Lord is a concoction of high-end spirits and comes with a cigar; and the Game Keeper is a beer cocktail served in a jar that looks like a beer barrel, with sprigs of wheat as a garnish.” There’s a real sense of Britishness in every aspect of the club, epitomised by their latest collaboration with The Foragers.
Set up by chefs George Fredenham and Gerland Waldeck- who run the Verluam Arms in St Albans- The Foragers is a dining concept which aims “to inspire a movement of respectful and tasteful foraging”. George has only been serving foraged food in the Dead Dolls Club since early January, but has already evolved the menu three times.
I sampled the pigeon kebabs with rosehip-infused BBQ sauce, alongside cured trout with horseradish crème fresh and home made crisps- delicious. Delicately presented on small tasting plates, diners are encouraged to engage in a tapas-style eating experience. A good idea well-executed, the Dead Dolls Club is conceptual dining at its best.