Shoreditch's Apothecary revives a Japanese pastime in east London

Apothecary - located on Charlotte Road, a few minutes’ walk from Old Street Station

Apothecary - located on Charlotte Road, a few minutes’ walk from Old Street Station. - Credit: Brian Dandridge

Shoreditch has a growing reputation for fashionable and quirky places to eat and drink but diners will be hard pressed to find anywhere as unique and classy as Charlotte Road’s newest venue this side of Tokyo. 

Apothecary will accommodate more than 130 covers.

Apothecary will accommodate more than 130 covers across its intimately connected open plan space, with original sapele wood bar top and robata kitchen counter. - Credit: Brian Dandridge

Apothecary might come as a surprise for those whose only experience of Japanese dining comes from the stressed conveyor belts of YO! Sushi. Customers are met with the natural woods and mood lighting of a bar, and encouraged to order one of a wide selection of cocktails, beers, or sakes before taking time to study the menu. 

The interiors will reflect a contemporary Tokyo-style tavern through a Shoreditch lens.

The interiors will reflect a contemporary Tokyo-style tavern through a Shoreditch lens. - Credit: Brian Dandridge

There is an emphasis on the venue not being a restaurant, but an ‘Izakaya’, a Japanese bar that serves freshly prepared ‘drinking food’. Izakaya translates as ‘stay, drink place’. An all you can eat buffet, this is not. Diners are served intricately prepared dishes on small plates with no minimum or maximum amount of orders necessary. In keeping with the relaxed vibe, the staff (all genial and approachable) serve orders as and when chefs are ready, and there is no formal order. On Friday and Saturday nights there is a live DJ, with the jazz-influenced Rebecca Vasmant behind the decks on the night of our visit. 

 Sakes (both hot and cold) will also be offered in small ‘taster size’ to encourage those less familiar

Sakes (both hot and cold) will also be offered in small ‘taster size’ to encourage those less familiar - Credit: Brian Dandridge

We are served lotus root crisps and salmon avocado rolls, the latter from the sushi menu. It is the introduction to what becomes a running theme, of minimal ingredients providing subtle but exquisite flavours. These are followed by chicken meatball skewers which my friend enjoyed, as I, a pescatarian, opted for a charred asparagus skewer. Many of the dishes are built around vegetables, with a large range of vegetarian and vegan options. The grilled cauliflower with black sesame was a favourite, as was the miso glazed aubergine. Dishes don’t have to be complimented with sides, but the furikake rice and picked vegetables we sampled are worth a try. A nice aspect of the minimalist cuisine is that you will not leave feeling stuffed and regretful, but that said, I would recommend leaving room for the yuzu baked cheesecake.

Dishes on the menu will be Japanese-influenced snacks and small plates, served all day from Apothecary’s open kitchen

Dishes on the menu will be Japanese-influenced snacks and small plates, served all day from Apothecary’s open kitchen. - Credit: Brian Dandridge

Opening in the building that was most recently Merchants Tavern, the Izakaya takes its name from what was once a Victorian apothecary shop and warehouse. Today Apothecary  stands for something different, but with ambitions and the potential to revive a popular Japanese pastime in east London. 

For more information and bookings, visit www.apothecaryeast.co.uk 


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