Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

If through some bizarre impulse you choose to go to a bar reviewed on this blog, God bless you. However, if this is the one you choose, you may need the patience of Penelope waiting for the return of Odysseus.

The fundamental flaw of The Mayor is that it just isn’t the secret it’s supposed to be. The first time I attempted to impress someone by revealing what lay behind that ‘inconspicuous’ SMEG fridge in the Spitalfields Breakfast Club, I was disappointed. I was informed that there would be at least a two hour wait. There was no way I was going to keep someone’s attention for that long without the numerous conversational crutches which I’d hoped this quirky bar would provide.

Fortunately, this led me to the discovery of Lounge Bohemia, so all was for the best on that occasion. Others, however, have not been so lucky. I have heard of people nonchalantly asking at the bar whether the Mayor was ‘in’ (as was the rumoured approach), only to receive a firm ‘no’ as a response. Reeling and with a very confused date who had so far been kept in the dark, another ‘cool’ destination would have to be found to salvage the evening. Without the help of this blog I’m assuming their night ended with them, alone except for some crayfish, slurping up some canal water. Or is that just me?

Maybe sick of validating smarmy wankers with a response of ‘yes, he is’, things appear to have changed. Now, you’ll have to queue like everyone else waiting outside Infernos on a Friday night, or if it’s slightly less busy take a seat with a drink upstairs while you wait. Like a pleb.

So, the essential feelings which you will experience as you attempt to get into this bar are confusion, disappointment and inadequacy – though normal sensations for us, they are not ideal for showing off your own innate knowledge of London’s underground bar scene. But maybe you thrive off this.

If you trust your conversational ability more than I do: go ahead and wait. Finally, after demonstrating the patience of a saint you will be chaperoned through the fridge door, following the sign which reads ‘Thrills’, and down into the kitsch bar area. The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is finally revealed: It’s a bar, which serves drinks and has people drinking those drinks in it.

I judged someone instantly when I heard them discussing excitedly what could be behind the fridge door. This excitement reached another level when they were finally led down to the bar area. Maybe I’m just too jaded for the experience, but it seemed that the anticipation had kept them going throughout the wait, and that they were genuinely not sure what to expect. I’m not suggesting I’m a savant, but this does seem to impress the sort of people that think All Bar One is an okay destination for a post-work drink and that you probably need a passport to go anywhere in Hackney. During your time in The Mayor there is a strong chance that you will be stuck with a combination of such people and, if you’re lucky a group of ‘ballers’ who’ve stumbled in from the nearby City: not the ideal demographic to give you the validation you desperately crave.

It is an understandably difficult tightrope to tread if you intend to run a profitable speakeasy-style bar in London: too secret and the bar fails, too public and it’s not a secret. A victim of its own publicity, location and fame, The Mayor falls foul of this paradox. It is yet another ‘secret’ bar which somehow manages to belie its secret location by telling absolutely everyone exactly where it is.

How can I justify reviewing it on this blog, then? Bear with me...

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is the paradigm of what this blog is searching for: it is a ‘cool’ bar brimming with uncool people attempting to impress other uncool people. Also, at a base level it is a very good venue. It is symbolic of the mainstream success achieved by London’s bustling, ‘underground’ drinking revolution.

I’m more than happy to spend an evening downing £3, flat lagers at the Woodberry Tavern or doing something obscure in The Dolphin (another couple of candidates for London’s most desolate drinking venues). However, sometimes occasion calls for something slightly more pleasant – although I was disappointed that the cat food advertised was not actually real cat food, knowing my penchant for a bit of Whiskas to go with a few cocktails. Catch The Mayor at the right moment and you are guaranteed to impress. Grab the lounge chairs in the furthest corner of the bar, take advantage of the attentive table service, and lose long hours to the delights of its cocktail list (among one of the best in London). Savour the kick from a chilli and lemongrass margarita, or the fruity explosion of the Alpine Fizz. Try out the ‘Basil No Faulty’ or the ‘Posh Paddington’. How could you not be tempted by that?

Best thing of all is that you are warned not to exit through the fridge, but back out through the toilets. You are implored to leave with your flies down to give the impression that you’ve just been to the loo rather than a trendy bar. This is perfect if you’re like me and that normally describes you anyway.

Remember to make some quip to the staff about ‘it must be really chilly working inside a fridge’ on your way out: they really like it when you do that.


12-16 Artillery Lane,
E1 7LS

0207 078 9633

1 comment:

  1. The Dolphin is fucking great, take that back.