On a summer’s day, London Fields is like one big Bulmers advert: attractive men in short shorts and attractive women in even shorter ones, impromptu barbecues, casual tossing of frisbees, Instagram sunshine through the trees. The Elysian Fields on Earth – or about as appealing as Flanders Fields, depending on your opinion of this sort of thing. But as shadows lengthen, bins overflow and bare legs feel the chill of a Hackney evening, the hordes descend on the handily adjacent Broadway Market to keep the consequence-free fun going. Established pubs such as the Cat & Mutton or Off Broadway are there to refresh those still standing – and joining them is Stories, a new all-day diner and bar from the people behind the Book Club in Shoreditch.
We visited on one of those warm weekends, and found the heaving bar was running out of all sorts of things, from beer to bog roll. The permanent queue for the toilets suggested that some folk, inconvenienced by the lack of local public facilities, were popping by intending to spend no more than a penny. Better get used to this, Stories – London Fields is not going to get any quieter on a sunny day.
But from what we ate and drank, Stories shows promise. From an innovative-looking list, a Sob cocktail, with Hendrick’s gin and mango puree, was intriguingly garnished with a whole red chilli. We nibbled on it while waiting for our food to arrive. There’s brunch during the day, and until midnight bar food comes in bowls – mozzarella risotto balls were great, as were polenta chips with rosemary and parmesan, and breadcrumbed spicy chicken drumsticks. The rest of the menu looked good too, particularly the beef and chorizo burger with manchego and triple-cooked chips.
The place itself is as handsome as most of its customers, which you’d hope for in a bar that numbers a ‘creative director’ among its staff. Large, sail-like lights are adjusted by a complex series of pulleys across the ceiling; on the walls hang works by local artists, and the blond-wood furniture is very cool. And as with the Book Club, there are in-bar events providing entertainment and education. I’m sure that when the bar learns to cope with the crowds, this will be a story with a happy ending.
Reviewed by Euan Ferguson