The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, Shoreditch

Mayor of Scaredycat Town
Before it gets commercial

The Vibe

On a little street in New York, in a hot dog shop, behind a payphone, there’s a little bar called Please Don’t Tell. It used to be the place to be, mostly because of the convoluted way of finding it: enter the shop, locate the pay phone, pick it up, give a password, and enter through the back wall. However, then Time Out wrote it up and everyone flocked there to see what the fuss was about. Enigma no more. The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town in Spittalfields is up against the same sort of time pressure. Nestled in the Breakfast Club, the bar lies somewhere beneath, with entry granted by requesting to see the Mayor (oh come on) and then being led through a Smeg fridge to a hidden staircase. Gimmicky? Hell yeah, but one can’t help but feel a thrill at the playfulness of it all. Arrive downstairs and it’s much the same speakeasy set-up as most – gratifyingly low lights, small (but high) tables, strong cocktails and finger food. What it thankfully doesn’t have, perhaps due to its city location, is a smattering of media types and frantic in-the-knows. No no, this is more the place for that endearing city character who thinks he/she’s found the coolest bar around and now wants to show his colleagues or date. But the tourists, they are a comin’, so date there now.

The Order

This cocktail bar serves wine, a faux pas these days in joints like this but one that daters will welcome. Unlike other secret bars, the staff are goddamn delightful, no sides of self-importance with the margaritas here. With that in mind, don’t feel the pressure to talk shop with them and display your knowledge of bourbons; neither they nor your date will care. There are no reservations but on a Thursday you can start at the bar and be assured of a table in less than 30 minutes, not bad for these places. After the cocktail, get a bottle of wine and some delicious skin-on or cheesy chips with a triple side of dips to line the stomach.

The Game

This is Tuesday-Thursday dating; it’s perhaps not on-trend enough anymore for a Friday night. Meet after work at Liverpool Street station and head straight to Spittalfields Market. When you get to the Breakfast Club, charmingly ask for the Mayor. The hostess will almost definitely look smug-apologetic at first and mumble something about being ‘at capacity’. Stare blank-faced at her and tell her you’ll wait; she’ll lead you down in five. A little trick for these sorts of places, especially on a date, is to be fazed by nothing. If you must wait, then wait. If it’s full, be nonchalant and then threaten to walk off. Like marketplace bargaining, the old walkaway routine works a charm. Once down there, make sure you point out how ‘fun’ as opposed to ‘cool’ this place it, then tuck into the drinks and keep carb-loading. Push the limits of how long you can stay, feed each other chips, kiss on the lips across the table, order more wine and decide how badly you want to compromise tomorrow (very).

The Faults

Where are the East London trendies?

Sex Factor

2. This place has just the right amount of fun to avoid any awkward date vibes and certainly provides a glut of gimmicks to give your date a story to tell should you fail to provide a better one. But the signs wryly forbidding ‘heavy petting’ can be taken at face value,  both the high stools and the PG-13 atmosphere make this hard.

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