VSCentral London is always full of new and wonderful independent openings, and yet you aren’t likely to stumble upon The Buxton unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. Tucked away at the quieter end of Brick Lane, the pub-hotel has quietly carved out a niche since 2019 as one of the only affordable places in the area with both great food and comfortable rooms. It’s suitable for both city revelers who need a place to sleep after a sleepless night, as well as budget tourists or locals looking for chic pub food off the beaten track. It’s a smart investment from the Culpeper Group – which also owns the pub of the same name just down the street, The Green in Clerkenwell and The Duke of Cambridge in Islington.
In fact, this convenient location has quite a history. In the 19th century it was the epicenter of Jack the Ripper crimes and by the early 2000s it was known for its prostitutes, pimps and drug dealers. You can thank gentrification (for once) that its reputation has been saved since then. Today, it is one of the only places in the center where brokers and hipsters happily rub shoulders. Named after local social reformer Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, who helped lead the campaign for the abolition of slavery and who also owned the nearby Truman Brewery, the building has retained much of its Victorian charm. They added two more floors and a rooftop garden, where they grow sturdy herbs and greens for use in the restaurant (though its “unprecedented” 360-degree views aren’t so unmatched).
The main floor is the bistro, and that’s where the Culpeper team did what they do best. They took the bar and gave it a marble top and hanging shelves for exposed pipes. The indoor seating area is filled with stools around tall tables, highlighted by intimate, hanging lights. Through the patio doors is the beer garden – yes, take note, there is a beer garden – under a huge awning and surrounded by fences intertwined with greenery. There are notes of brass, dark wood, leather, exposed brick. It’s the perfect mix of pub and restaurant; both chic and urban; suitable for almost any type of event and dress code.
The menu, presented as a mix of British and European, is simple and seasonal. Like everywhere else these days, the emphasis is on the ingredients: the flank steak comes from a highly well-being Yorkshire butcher who has reintroduced breeds native to the region – a choice that is felt in every bite of meat. tender and tasty. When Boyfriend is politely suggested that he has the medium rare steak and not his typical half well done (I know, SMH), it becomes clear how much the staff care about your experience here. When we visited in July, the steak was intuitively paired with charred summer zucchini and fresh salsa verde. So fresh, in fact, that the herbs had probably been picked from the roof garden that morning.
We also tried the fish of the day, which comes from the south coast and that day was a beautifully plump piece of hake, crisp to perfection. It was served with poached red beets and an excessive pile of spring greens, which was too potent for my liking and detracted from the beautifully sweet fish. As always, I found my favorite dishes in the starters. I can rarely hold back from anything raw, and the pollock crudo with blood orange chunks didn’t disappoint – an unusual flavor pairing that works so well. Neither did the leek tart, which you couldn’t even see under a gigantic pile of parmesan, that’s how I would like all my meals to be served, please. Apparently there was also an egg yolk somewhere in there. Cheese, gooey, delicious. My only regret is that I didn’t try the Seared Oyster Mushroom and Kale Gnocchi or the panoply of delicious bar snacks I’ve since seen make the rounds on Instagram.
With a deliciously creamy potato salad, and not being big on sweet tooth, we couldn’t be tempted by dessert, but rather were wowed by the drink menu. Neither too long nor too short, it offers classic cocktails from East London (there is always an Aperol spritz – he has not forgotten where it is), an “Aperitivo Hour” section, wines without intervention and local beers on tap (a few gluten-free options, of course). With our stomachs full and our heads slightly sore, we drifted upstairs in search of our room.
The mix of modern aesthetics and old-world glamor extends to the spiral staircase, which gives Wes Anderson / Hogwarts a vibe with its matching carpet and wallpaper, artwork and furniture. maximalists. Rooms are advertised as suitable for the “modern traveler,” although the six-foot-wide boyfriend might have a thing or two to say about this. The toilet-shower room was not much wider than it, and there were a few crushed toes when navigating the room (after a few drinks, beware). Let’s just hope modern travelers are more of my height than hers. For me the rooms were cozy and comfortable, although the gaping sliding door that separates the toilet from the rest of the room certainly won’t appeal to new couples. The bed was one of the most comfortable I have stayed in for this budget. Tea and coffee are provided, but unfortunately dairy alternatives were not.
Unlike the rest of the hotel, the decor of the rooms is clean almost to the point of utilitarianism, but in a heartwarming way. There are hand-woven artwork, rugs and blankets, all by local artists, and books on the coffee table with secrets about the area. The quality is above what you would expect for the price in this part of town. It might be too small for a long trip, but it’s perfect for a weekend getaway if you have things planned nearby or, like us, a night out in a part of London that we are visiting rarely. With only 15 rooms, it sounds a lot more like quality than quantity compared to others in this category.
At Buxton, the spirits behind Culpeper gave what was once an indescribable drinking joint their signature touch and turned into a dining and hotel experience you’ll want to tell all your friends about like it was. your little secret. The food is classic yet understated and demonstrates not only the skills of the chefs, but their deep understanding of ingredients, seasons and flavors. For just £ 23 for two courses, or £ 29 for three, the menu looks like fine dining, but for a fraction of the price, and for around £ 100 per room, it doesn’t get better than this.
The Buxton, 42 Osborn Street, London, E1 6TD | 020 7392 2219 | thebuxton.co.uk