In a former life, 384 Coldharbour Lane was home to a horse meat butcher’s, back in the post-war rationing period. Thankfully the current residents have very different ideas of how to tempt customers through the door, instead serving up original cocktails and quirkily presented small plates.
I passed Three Eight Four one night, on the way to The Joint, and the unassuming frontage, warm glow and buzzing bar full of hipster drinkers caught my eye. I resolved to return at the earliest opportunity – last week.
I met two girlfriends on a Tuesday evening, and we sat on old leather bus seats at a riveted stainless steel diner table. Über hipster light fitting are fashioned from wire shopping baskets and mattress springs, walls are heavily distressed, and even on a Tuesday evening the place was pleasantly buzzing.
There’s a cocktail menu (we tried a Bombay Kitchen and a Cherry Bakewell, both delicious) or you can go off-piste and talk to the bar staff, who’ve got all the classics covered – my Don Papa Old Fashioned was served with a cricket ball-sized orb of ice and went down a treat. Retro soda cans make up the alcohol-free offering.
The food menu is a fairly succinct list of small plates – which we found to be a little hit and miss. Reuben Sliders (£5.50) were presented on a ping pong bat for added hipster appeal, but were sadly served cold; Salt & Pepper Squid (£6) was a hit, whereas the Beef Brisket in a brioche bun (£7.50) was definitely a miss; Mozzarella Arancini (£4.50) were comforting balls of cheesy goodness.
Three Eight Four, like sister bar/restaurant Seven inside the market, succeeds in making a venue that looks like a squat a most sought-after spot to be seen in (reservations are recommended). Both number-named bars are good choices, thanks to an overall vibe that shuns all things mainstream, without a hefty price tag.