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A vermouth-heavy night-time takeover of an Italian caff in Shoreditch.
Despite the Mario Bros name, Luigi’s Bar looks more like a Berlin canteen. There’s an eclectic mix of art on the walls, shabby rugs on the shiny floor, and two clusters of inviting brown leather sofas beside rows of tables. By day, the room is Spelzini, a low-key Italian café; by night it’s Luigi’s. Wide windows let you see out to Shoreditch High Street, and if you sit on the sofas, you feel a bit like you’re in an advert for the great east London dream.
Luigi’s design might be trying to convey a sense of cool Shoreditch ease, but, on two separate visits, staff eagerly ushered us in. On the second occasion a guy in a suit was outside drumming up business.
Inside, service was similarly overenthusiastic. Even the owner, Jim Fisher, worked the room, talking knowledgeably about the Italian wines and vermouth on offer, and showing passion for a new cocktail menu. I liked that – although, it did render the clever, edited-down version of the menu totally irrelevant.
A delicious savoury martini came with a sliver of parmesan and a couple of drops of truffle oil on its surface, while my friend’s Luigi’s cocktail was like a cherry negroni, with an in-house cherry shrub adding a tart dimension. The pork ragú with bread and butter was hugely generous and full of Italian flavour – although, not as dainty as your traditional bar snack. Maybe stick to olives, salumi and the punchy pickles if you’re visiting for date night.
While Shoreditch High Street is overrun with happy hour and party spots, Luigi’s is really focusing on quality Italian produce. It might be a bit keen to please on the whole, but I’d take that over hip indifference any day. Especially when it means that my cocktail comes with a cheesy bonus.
Shoreditch High Street
|Transport:||Shoreditch High Street Overground|
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