By Euan Ferguson
This new bar and restaurant has taken over the Hoxton Square site recently vacated by the Hoxton Apprentice, a charitable restaurant that, long before the arrival of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, was set up to train young folk in catering skills. Monikers is also a seat of learning, in a way. It’s in the shell of a former primary school, and so an education theme is drilled home through the decor.
There’s a periodic table on the wall, and a huge revolving blackboard; water is served in laboratory beakers. Toilets signs point to ‘boys’ and ‘girls’, although, thankfully, there are no bullies within waiting to stick your head down the lav. There’s also a very cool mezzanine decked out like the upstairs of an old London bus, complete with vinyl seats.
The food offering is A-grade: no spotted dick with lumpy custard here. It comes on small plates; diners are encouraged to freestyle their way through the menu and share dishes. You’d have to be on very good terms with whoever’s across the table to share cauliflower soup, but other dishes are easily divisible – Arbroath smokie salad, soused mackerel with fennel, mini chorizos. Well done to the chef for opening a new restaurant in a hip postcode that doesn’t serve American diner food.
The drinks menu is excellent too – and you’re not required to order any food. There are a few London beers (Meantime, Camden, Kernel) and a list of grown-up cocktails. Going back to school never seemed so appealing.