Strongroom, 120-124 Curtain Rd, London EC2A 3SQ
Something makes me so apprehensive about Shoreditch bars. The area just oozes that vegan mentality framed by a overgrown beard. To find a Carouser in Shoreditch is like seeing a penguin in Africa. But there are some decent places among this rubble. The Vice-owned Old Blue Last, and Roadtrip to name a few. But there are some like Old Street Records that is dressed like a rock bar, but is nothing more than a butch cocktail chain. This is what gives me the fear about Strongroom. Will it be the place that pulls us out of Camden?
With the promise of being attached to a rehearsal studio and a live music, Strongroom already has the upper hand. It’s located not too far from The Blues Kitchen but far enough away from the tube that I am soaked in English weather by the time I get in. But luckily inside the temperature is turned right up, forcing me to throw off my leopard print coat and develop a thirst.
The Strongroom studios is well known already for accommodating artists like Radiohead, Nick Cave and The Prodigy. I hope that the bar carries the same credibility.
The theme of the bar is instantly apparent. The bar is lined with up cycled stereo systems that flash, the seats are made out of equipment cases and the walls are decorated with artwork by Jamie Reid – The Sex Pistols artist. This is heavy nod to their Strongroom rehearsal studio which came first. The studio has been there for around 30 years, with the upstairs bar coming later roughly 20 years ago. The bar area now has an almighty extension of a downstairs area and a live music area. I am unimpressed to hear that due to the proximity of the rehearsal studio, gigs aren’t allowed to be too loud. I am not holding out to see some of my favourite bands here.
Strongroom offers all craft beers on tap and one craft cider too. I’m disappointed when the barman tells me that they don’t have any stouts on. They do, however, have a speciality Pilsner that is imported fresh which is their most popular drink. I tried an impeccable number made in gin barrels but a whole pint comes to £14. This is fairly normal for craft beer, but might be a shocker if you aren’t aware. Instead I opt for a cider which is reasonably priced at four pound.
One benefit of this bar, in better weather of course, is the outside area. Tables and shelter while you smoke- which is hard to find in a decent rock bar. It seems a bit like you’re exiting out onto a road but it’s a back street, which I can see being really popular during the summer – especially as Strongroom pop up another bar outside.
As I find myself being drawn to the glow of the upstairs bar, I notice that the music that they’re playing is really good. Classics mainly from old school Green Day to AC/DC and I even hear Cilla Black at one point. There was a real mix but each track was easily recognisable.
A pop up kitchen is located upstairs. The food vendor is on rotation every six months, and at the moment is mostly vegetarian food- typical but fitting for the location. As I sit and thumb my way through the menu, I notice that I am in good company. The crowd that is gathered in the bar, all seemed to be music fans and the kind of types you would find in your average Camden bar.
Strongroom seems like the kind of place where you wouldn’t mind day-drinking and lounging. And there’s a lot of space, which is brilliant if you’re allergic crowded bars. Though Strongroom lacks the grime that Camden bars have, it still feels like a true home for music fans. The allure of the live music and the promise of decent drinks will make me come back. I can’t wait to see what it looks like in summer.
Photography By Annamaria Crivellari