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