When I was a student in Newcastle there was a famous bakery that used to open its doors in the early hours of the morning to feed boozed-up students returning from town. Devoid of kebab shops, pizza places or any other form of late night greaseathons in Jesmond the bakery did rather well out of early morning sales, and it didn’t cost them to staff the operation because most of their bakers were in at the crack of dawn anyway. Their business logic was simple; if the lights are on, we may as well be open.
Since then a spate of all-day restaurants have opened up, switching their offering throughout the day so they can churn customers from breakfast to dinner. Bill’s was one of the first to champion the breakfast to bedtime idea and has enjoyed great success since they opened their first eatery in Lewes. There are now 20 outlets in London and almost 70 nation-wide, and it’s easy to see why. With a growing demand to eat posh for breakfast and go hot for lunch, transitioning from breakfast to dinner has never been as seamless.
Since opening in Shoreditch five years ago Grind has promoted a similar attitude towards dining habits. Initially conceived to bring the coffee experience of Melbourne to East London, Grind has since grown to six locations across London, serving coffee, food and cocktails from dawn until dusk. Opening at 07.00am on weekdays and serving through to 02.00am the following night you will find everything from Mushroom breakfast croquettes in the morning to Espresso Martinis at night in an environment that is as conducive to a coffee and a gossip as it is to a cocktail and a dance.
I popped down to their new outlet in Clerkenwell to see what it was all about.
At 2-4 Old Street Clerkenwell Grind is a stone’s throw from where it all began at Shoreditch Grind. Having reclaimed another imposing listed building on Old Street the ambitious new project is a bold new restaurant and raucous late night club-bar, offering the full suit of drinking and dining options throughout the day.
Co-founder David Abrahamovitch said: “When Kaz and I first opened Shoreditch Grind five years ago we wanted somewhere to drink coffee and cocktails all day, and we put in a recording studio upstairs so we’d never have to leave. You’ll still find us there most days, but along with the Grind we’ve also grown up a little and Clerkenwell Grind is our new perfect night out.
“Properly good cocktails in the bar upstairs, dinner with friends in the dining room next door, and then downstairs to carry on in one of the few spaces left in London that has a great sound system and a late license, but no one makes you pay to get in or buy anything with a sparkler in it. It’s perfect!”
Passing through the Grade II listed facade, guests are greeted by a signature Grind neon sign designed by Toronto tattoo-artist Curt Montgomery. Clerkenwell Grind’s interior is another step up for the brand, spanning over three thousand square feet, across two floors, with pink velvet booths, sweeping marble bars and royal blue paneling.
Opening at 07.00am on weekdays, the kitchen downstairs, led by head chef Mauro puts bold creative twists on the usual Grind breakfast – with new dishes like Bright beetroot-cured salmon with kimchee and the Mushroom breakfast croquettes.
At the weekend, things become a little more decadent, with Truffle hash topped with Poached duck egg, and French toasted banana bread – the perfect spot to treat your mum for brunch. As always, the coffee is the Grind House Blend, roasted just half a mile down the road in Shoreditch.
Through lunchtime and into the evening the charcoal oven kicks into gear, with small plates like Isle of Mull scallops served with samphire, Aubergine and goats curd, and main courses of Miso-glazed lamb spare ribs and red snapper – served with an international standard wine list with more than a few rarities from Italy, Australia and New Zealand.
After dinner, those looking for more can descend to the Club-Bar below, where a green marble topped cocktail bar takes centre stage. From here, an all new cocktail menu, headed up by the Grind’s much loved Espresso Martini, will be served until 02.00am every night – all to a killer soundtrack spun by Kaz’ friends and guests from the nearby Shoreditch Grind Recording Studio.