Situated in the heart of London’s most hipster area, the Bike Shed is a long way from the traditional greasy spoon hangout. In truth it is neither a café nor a shed, rather a motorcycle themed lifestyle brand offering tattoos, hair/beard cuts, a full service restaurant and a clothing shop.
My first impression was of the overwhelming size and scale of the place, taking up I think four railway arches of increasing size adjacent to Shoreditch Town Hall. If you arrive on a bike you ride in past outdoor café tables – 3mph limit – to the furthest arch where there is parking for fifty or more bikes. This area is marshalled by a couple of no-nonsense biker types so it’s pretty safe to leave your machine, though I detached my sat-nav.
The restaurant is massive – seating at least eighty I would estimate and was already very busy when I arrived at noon on a Saturday. The next arch includes a large lounge area with groups of sofas as well as a barber and branch of Urban Rider. The third arch is a lounge/gallery/event space. Bikes of the street-scrambler and professionally built custom type are dotted around – note the notorious CX500 ‘plastic maggot’ transformed into a café racer of doubtful legality.
I’d hoped to see a few ‘shed build’ and rat bikes, but the parking area included a pretty standard range of sports, modern retros and the odd Harley.
I had been apprehensive that the place would be full of Roland Cambridge type designer stubbled poseurs but the customers seemed to include a wide range: families and mums with kids as well as bikers of various types. Service was very friendly and obliging and there’s a good range of food I just had bacon and egg in a brioche - £6.75, full English is £12 and there’s a lunch and dinner menu of burgers, salads etc. at standard prices for the area. I’d taken the precaution of booking a space in the lounge area and were welcome to ‘chill’ as long as we wanted. Service I have to say was very friendly and un-pressurised.
When we headed off around 2.30 the place was getting really busy, with bikes queuing to get in and I imagine it’s even more so in the evening. The Bike Shed is not really a traditional stop of at the end of a ride, as getting there on a bike through the ever-changing traffic restrictions is not particularly pleasant; it’s more of a destination in its own right and a nice place to have a meal and relax. Would I go back? I’m not desperate but it would be a possible place for the increasing number of London based LAMkins to have a social meeting.
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