Tucked into spray-canned corner of a Hackney Wick carpark is Grow, a venue, bar and popup restaurant which also doubles up as ‘an experiment in ethical and sustainable business’.
Words: Kyra Hanson @kyra_sian
Photography: Martin Ruffin - martinruffin.co.uk
On arrival, I ordered a bottle of the Organic Roots Bordeaux Blanc. One glass. Though I was offered a straw by the bemused barman. (Thrifty winos settling in for the night know a bottle makes more financial sense than ordering by the glass). Feeling only slightly sorry for my liver, I returned to the stage to survey my surroundings. There’s something about being by the water that is instantly relaxing and totally moreish – maybe it’s the pace of life offered by the main mode of transport; people in boats always seem to be happy and waving; people in cars always seem to be angry and swearing. At any rate, Grow’s staff and regulars are certainly of the happy and waving variety – an amicable, dressed down sort had gathered under the main space’s luminescent green hue for ‘Have Love Will Travel’, an evening of ‘60's soul, trashy rock 'n' roll, glam gems & cult pop’. Grow doesn’t have the self-important, you’re-not-cool-enough-to-be-here vibes, which sometimes emanate from Crate (further up the river) and on paper, it certainly contains all the buzz words for a green-fingered, guilt-free night out.
"Grow’s business model is centred around ‘the sharing economy’, this means the chalked-up walls were probably doodled by a local artist, the cute terrace planting involved community gardeners and, importantly, they like to keep events free."
At resident restaurant ‘Slow Fire London’ you can chow down on shoulder of pork or leg of Spring lamb, safe in the knowledge that both pig and sheep were roaming around a field somewhere nearby before they ended up on the canal-side smoker. All dishes are available as veggie options, at lower prices, a nice touch. However, I was left waiting an hour for a lentil and kidney bean wrap with a couple of limp lettuce leaves in tow, either they were growing the lentils in a back room to order, or they’ve taken the concept of ‘slow cooking’ to a whole new level. Two plastic forks arrived with my food, suggesting they haven’t quite figured out how to make cutlery sustainable, yet. (Oops! I later discovered, it's Vegware, not plastic, so all good). But what of the drinks? Although limited, the drinks menu is pleasant enough, there are just three wine options (red, white or rose), but all are organic, as is the prosecco and cider. Coffee is fair trade. Grow’s business model is centred around ‘the sharing economy’, this means the chalked-up walls were probably doodled by a local artist, the cute terrace planting involved community gardeners and, importantly, they like to keep events free.
I even managed a self-conscious twirl beneath the spider plant-lined dancefloor and I don’t know if it was the lentils lining my stomach or the organic booze, but I certainly didn’t have the usual pounding-head-sick-bucket scenario on Saturday morning. Sort out the slow service and this could be one experiment that takes off in a big way.