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Chiringuito’s Rooftop at Bethnal Green: Once more unto the beach

London’s first chiringuito opened this week, bringing laid back beach-style hospitality to Bethnal Green. Loosely translated from Spanish, a chiringuito is an all-day beachfront bar and restaurant serving tapas, snacks and refreshing drinks. With a rooftop overlooking the Museum Gardens, Chiringuito certainly called to SEEN’s mind the warmth, energy and ethos of lazy days spent at a Spanish beach bar.

Chiringuito is the passion project of a local East Londoner Alex Dehayen who has converted a derelict public toilet block, next to Bethnal Green tube station, into a contemporary all-day bar. Backing onto the park, Chiringuito’s patio and rooftop terrace provides the perfect setting for a commute-saving coffee, late lunch, dinner or sunset cocktails.

Peruvian Head Chef, Marco Padilla has created a menu inspired by fresh Hispanic and Latin American flavours and embracing the sharing ethos of tapas and pinchos. The menu is reminiscent of tapas bars in Barcelona – featuring classic dishes para picar such as Padron Peppers, Patatas Bravas, Gambas al ajillo – and sweeps across the Atlantic with touches of Mexican influence, as well as South American signatures such as Seabass ceviche and Peruvian leche del tigre. It was all delightfully fresh.

Examples from the menu include:
Tapas / side plates – Manchego with honey & fig
Racion / large plates – Fish tacos: Grilled swordfish with sauco (elderberry jam)
Racion / large plates – Roast pork belly in pisco and beer sauce with red peruvian chillies
Pizza – Roast tomato, spinach, with chorizo or garlic mushroom

The bar specialises in perfect serve Gin and Tonics, showcasing an array of Spanish gins, while the cocktail menu will also put Latino twists on classic cocktails such as the Bloody Maria, with a kick of tequila or mezcal. Chiringuito also boasts an impressive list of Cavas and Spanish wines to sip in the sunshine (SEEN and guest thorouighly enjoyed these), not forgetting craft beers from local east London breweries such as Trumans and Redchurch.

Examples from the cocktail menu include:
Chininjito – El dorado mojito, damson jam, Cava
Museum Gardens – Basil-infused vodka, St Germain elderflower liquer, fresh lime, sugar and grapefruit bitters
Samba – Abelha Cachaca, Fresh Lime, Pineapple and Coconut Horchata

The venue design takes its cues from Spanish influences; the ground-floor features azure mosaic tiles throughout, reflecting the typical marine setting of a traditional chiringuito, a peseta-topped bar, and a hand-painted mural designed by Mallory Dawn. Floor to ceiling windows let in streams of light and open out onto the patio adjoining the park. Upstairs, with views across the church and park, the rooftop features an impressive walk-over skylight, and is framed by the surrounding trees. It really is an idyllic spot.

Dehayen is dedicated to upholding the vitality of the community in which he grew up: “I wanted to bring something new and different to the place where I lived, to capture something that I loved from Spain and Latin American countries, which seemed to be missing in London. I love the vibe of the chiringuitos – they are places that you can go from sun up to sun down. Whilst the mood changes with the time of day, they are places where everyone is always welcome, where you can sit all day, won’t be rushed through service or hurried to leave – in fact you are encouraged to stay.”

SEEN and guest enjoyed themselves rather too well. It’s a light, fresh, convivial place that should go great guns in this extended summer. And if it should rain, so what? There’s always downstairs… Recommended.

Bethnal Green
Museum Gardens
Cambridge Heath Road
E2 9PA