Robb Recommends: The Light Bar, Shoreditch

A legendary East London building is once again shining bright.

Following a campaign to #savethelight, backed by thousands of locals including artist Tracey Emin, a former Victorian power station-turned iconic noughties nightclub on Shoreditch High Street has successfully fended off the threat of demolition.

Now, nearly a decade after it shuttered, the legendary building has been given a new lease of life as a restaurant and bar by long-standing Hackney residents Morten Jensen, Darren Collins and chef Johnnie Collins.

“This place is an institution, and deserved to be preserved and enjoyed by all,” says Jensen. “I’ve always loved this building, and have fought passionately to open the concept, even more so through a global pandemic. I’m so proud to be launching our new concept here.”

Slotted among a canyon of gleaming skyscrapers, the lofty building now unfolds over three floors of glazed bricks, industrial windows and exposed steelwork to include the cocktail-focused Copper Bar on a newly added second floor mezzanine level and The Timber Loft, a top floor dining area and events space, which sits under original wooden beams.

The Nottingham-based studio Macaulay Sinclair has lavished the soaring spaces in a teal palette of comfy banquette seating, bespoke mid-century furnishings, marble bar counters, copper light fixtures with exposed filament bulbs, potted plants and smartly concealed lighting that accentuates the feature staircase and creates an elevated feeling of warmth.

From the central bar in the ground-floor Engine Hall, kick things off with a Light Negroni, the restaurant’s signature cocktail in honour of the original Light bar. Concocted with the smoky, slightly sweet flavours of Amores Mezcal, it is the perfect preprandial drink to sip on while perusing the no-nonsense menu rustled up by chef Johnnie Collins (formerly of Nathalie and Casa Cruz).

Using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients such as vegetables from Collins’ own garden in Warwickshire and meat and fish sourced from small, dedicated suppliers, the modern British menu focuses on simple cooking and sharing plates. Start with a selection of yakitori sticks – such as the melt-in-the-mouth pork belly – from the robata grill, followed by a plate of creamy burrata topped with rhubarb and the earthy flavours of broad bean tops from Stepney City Farm. The fresh crab-stuffed cappelletti is a must-try, as is the deliciously rich Simon Hopkinson dark chocolate tart, which is served with a side of fresh mint-infused cream and sea salt.

Come summer, make sure to drop by the gorgeous terrace, even if just for a glass or two from the extensive wine list.

The Light Bar, 233 Shoreditch High Street E1 6PJ (+44 020 8194 1685/lightbarlondon.com)

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