Joga Bola at Shoreditch's Richmix boasts impressive World Cup experience
PUBLISHED: 06:26 19 June 2014
The World Cup has enjoyed one of the most exciting opening weeks in living memory and even those with less than a passing interest in football are getting into the samba spirit.
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road,
Tube: Shoreditch High Street
Tel: 020 7613 7498
Entry: Free (VIP ticket £35)
For those out in London, the challenge therefore becomes finding the best place to watch a match. Of my various experiences so far, though, Hackney’s Richmix centre has come out on top.
On the most basic level, the venue’s main bar is staging a free event, Joga Bola, throughout the entire tournament where people can watch games on a huge projector screen – from the comfort of countless chairs and beanbags – while between halves a dedicated DJ spins world music to continue the multi-cultural vibe.
On Friday, I ventured over to Shoreditch with two other football enthusiasts to enjoy the night, but also to try out the VIP package Richmix offer.
For £35, you are greeted with a cocktail reception, granted unlimited free drinks for two hours and provided with a rich selection of world cuisine which you can sample from their Mezzanine gallery.
Immediately surprising was not just the number of people who had gathered to watch Spain v Netherlands, but also the fact that many of them were diehard supporters of both countries – a welcome reminder of East London’s cultural diversity.
The bar was also vibrantly decorated with plenty of flags and posters, adding to an electric atmosphere.
On the face of it, £35 sounded a sizable investment for a night where dining out is not the main concern, but broken down, the free drinks more than made it value for money.
The cocktails particularly were a brilliant touch: a dedicated beach cart served concoctions made from Brazilian spirit Abelha Cachaca, which made for some very refreshing organic Caipirinhas.
For this night, the food produced from Richmix’s new restaurant was a platter of authentic Indian cuisine and it didn’t disappoint.
Succulent chicken tikka bites and crispy grilled shish kebab proved moreish and easy to snack on throughout the first half.
As an example of their dedication to authenticity, I was also intrigued to try out the Gol Gappe – known on these shores as Pani Puri – which proved delightfully light pastry parcels full of chutney, potato, onion and chickpeas.
As the Netherlands proceeded to batter Spain in a completely enthralling contest, the crowds swelled and cheered in disbelief – both below and around us.
The most impressive aspect was how no element felt like a distraction from the football; rather, it enriched the experience and made it one of my most memorable world cup memories, leaving us well-fed, well-watered and thoroughly entertained.