This returning period drama has always been pretty good at sneaking some surprisingly dark material into its family-friendly Sunday night slot. This week, it’s sexual violence in the form of a prostitute on a cargo ship and a young, pregnant woman trapped in an abusive marriage and in danger of disappearing off the radar of the social services altogether. Ken Loach or Lars von Trier would have a field day with some of this material – inevitably, as light entertainment convention demands, these grim stories are balanced by a cheerier running gag (calling it a plotline would be pushing it) involving the miraculous properties of nitrous oxide. Still, easy and likeable viewing – we’d take this big-hearted, earnest and nicely performed drama over the cynical Sunday evening machinations of ‘Downton Abbey’ every time.
In case you didn’t know, Scandinavia is cool right now. The food, the fashion, the facial hair – plus the Vikings have invaded the British Museum. All we need next is a healthy economy, a reliable public transport system and a sense of social justice, and London will be indistinguishable from Oslo. Meanwhile in Hackney, there’s yet another Northern European-inspired incursion. Or apparently so: the website claims this bar-restaurant-club draws on ‘a Nordic aesthetic’, although it’s not immediately obvious within. Oslo occupies the previously deserted old Hackney rail station and takes on a bit of a railway theme with its luggage-rack lighting, plus there are industrial stylings that give the whole place a Janet Jackson ‘Rhythm Nation’ video feel. The restaurant part is rather fancy, its food incorporating a few of the forages, pickles, jellies and marinations of New Nordic cooking. The kitchen is regularly given over to guest chefs, and you have to book – it’s always heaving. Eat in the bar and the food is more straightforward. Where once the standard snack in pubs was a toastie, sausage roll or pork pie, now it’s the slider or fried chicken. These are served alongside frankly obscene portions of chips, slathered with the likes of cured bacon fat and bacon salt, or braised oxtail, gravy and cheese. There’s a commendable range of craft beers from the vicinity, including a couple from Five Points Brewing just five minutes up the road at the Downs.Head upstairs and you’ll find a
Venue says: “Join us every Thursday night until late for Soul Soul Soul – a night of vinyl appreciation with DJs playing soul, funk, disco and more.”