Grub is the tastiest idea that Melanie May and James Knox Boothman have ever come up with, for they are the brains behind the new restaurant at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Situated in an old doctor’s clinic, between the trannies, old men and hyperfunsters, you’ll find Warren in charge of the whole building, James in the kitchen and Melanie sauntering between you and him, and you’ll find a delicious very British menu. Josh Jones sat down with them for a quick chat before the rush started. Get yourself down there and fill your boots.
Well hello, hello there you two – how’s it going? Gearing up for another busy weekend?
It’s Thursday morning, our hangovers are slowly wafting away with sounds of Rory’s Wurlitzer rising through the floorboards into the restaurant. Warren the club director is preparing for another busy weekend downstairs. With renowned club nights, Sink The Pink and Coney Island to organise it’s not like he hasn’t got enough on his plate (pun intended), but he still manages to find the time to help Grub, waiting patiently for my weekly menu to land on his desk so he can send it out to his wide network of comrades.
I like to consider the menu, using the freshest of what’s in season. We pack our front of house Aussie, Stevie off down to the woods to find some wild nettles armed with a photo and word of caution. Superb produce starts flowing through the doors from our wonderful suppliers accompanied by their routes’ stories of the day. I get my Keith Floyd on (red braces and a glass of plonk) and start cooking, whilst Melanie May unloads her granny trolley brimming with antique junk. By the time I’ve got a second to go and have a ciggy out the front, Steph the club’s resident tranny walks in asking what’s on the menu and usually sits down and tucks into the ox cheeks before the punters start walking in. By Saturday night things are going full flow – especially the booze downstairs.
What can people expect when they go to Grub?
Best of British Grub with a nod to the East End working class, with class.
What’s your favourite thing on the menu right now?
The well designed logo referencing the hospital the club used to be and looking like eels (”up in side ya”) wrapped around a flying spoon and we always look forward to taking the leftover Sunday roast home including: Beef, Yorkshire puds, pickled walnuts, parsnips, Jerusalem artichoke and duck fat roasties.
Where do all your ingredients come from? So it is true you get flowers and nettles from Hackney Downs and Victoria Park. Is everything East London based?
We packed Stevie off to the woods who is more used to Gum trees, not stinging nettles. Luckily she had gloves and the nettle soup went down well. People are becoming more and more aware of where their food comes from and it’s all about supporting the local independents who are ethical and organic. Shit, we should be doing this in Stoke Newington. We want to celebrate East End grub with good produce that tastes delicious.
You’re open at the weekend for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Has anyone come and stayed for all three? Would you encourage that person if no ones done that yet?
Yeah most of our friends, there are G&T’s or Bloody Grubby Mary’s (secret, very boozy recipe) with every course. The room is bright and there is a shower in the bathroom to wash between courses. No, really there is.
Photo: Tom Medwell