‘This ve­gan pub is so much fun, I don’t think Mor­ris­sey would drink here at all’

The Guardian - Feast - - News - Grace Dent

Food ○

At­mos­phere ○

Ser­vice ○

Club Mex­i­cana at the Spread Ea­gle 224 Homer­ton High Street, Lon­don E9, 020-8985 0400. Open Mon-Fri 4pm-11pm (2am Fri), Sat noon-2am, Sun noon-11pm. About £20 a head, plus drinks and ser­vice The term “ve­gan pub”, which de­scribes the Spread Ea­gle in Hack­ney, east Lon­don, is in­stinc­tively a funny one. Merely sprin­kle “ve­gan pub” into any sen­tence, and it con­jures up men­tal im­ages of wan-faced fun-phobes sip­ping half-pints of un­fil­tered oat­meal stout in a room ripe with high-fi­bre flat­u­lence. The ve­gan pub’s juke­box would of­fer one choice: an ex­tended, 14-minute remix of Meat Is Mur­der by The Smiths. “This beau­ti­ful crea­ture must die!” Mozza screams, in­ces­santly, as drinkers force down ve­gan pork scratch­ings made from zero-waste parsnip scrap­ings.

Well, the Spread Ea­gle is none of these things. It is, in fact, a cheer­ful boozer in Lon­don’s, ahem, Ve­gan Quar­ter, which stretches from Clap­ton to Hack­ney Wick, and it serves up plen­ti­ful, Mex­i­can­in­flu­enced food by street­food stars Club Mex­i­cana, as well as an­i­mal­friendly wines and, typ­i­cally, 16 dif­fer­ent ve­gan beers such as Cam­den Hells, Five Points Pale Ale, Beaver­town Gamma Ray and oth­ers that don’t use “fin­ings” such as isin­glass (made from the swim blad­ders of fish).

Not that the Spread Ea­gle ever cites any of the choices it has made, or its rea­son­ings for liv­ing this way. There is a new genre of ve­gan hospi­tal­ity that uses Jedi mindtrick­ery to ap­pease friends and fam­ily of ve­g­ans with as­sertive shock nor­mal­ity. This is a fam­ilyand dog-friendly boozer, the room rocks with laugh­ter, the ser­vice is smi­ley, and the loos are clean, even though they prob­a­bly use that eco-friendly bleach non­sense that just moves muck around. The place is hewn in mid­night blues and cop­per ac­cents, and a large spread ea­gle is daubed pret­tily on one wall. As groups of din­ers come through the doors, you can see the weight lift from meat-eaters’ shoul­ders when they re­alise this is just a nor­mal gas­tropub ex­pe­ri­ence and not a two-hour, chia seed-filled, all-sen­sory drub­bing on the woes of ren­net, col­la­gen and cochineal.

In fact, the Spread Ea­gle is so much fun, I don’t think Mor­ris­sey

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