Ridley Road Market Bar

Ridley Road

(Image belongs to Ridley Road Market Bar)

Ridley Road Market Bar

43  Ridley Road, Dalston, E8 2NP

Reviewed by Carolyn Owlett

I have been putting off writing a review of Ridley Road Market Bar for some time now.  It’s not because I don’t think it is very good but actually because I love this place so much I didn’t want to share!

Whilst many would argue that Dalston has well and truly had its day, Ridley Road Market bar is one of the few venues left in the area that still maintains it’s cool.  Whilst other places around the Kingsland Road have become commercialized, over priced and a tad Essex the beautiful thing about Market Bar is that it still feels very real.

In its previous life the venue was a furniture and computer store but in 2012, after something of a minimalist makeover (perhaps make- under, may be more accurate) Ridley Road Market Bar was born.

At first glace you would be forgiven for mistaking the place as a pop up tiki bar come 80’s launderette. With wooden cladded walls, chessboard lino flooring and a makeshift bar it is not somewhere you would want to wear your Louboutins but that is part of what makes it so brilliant.  Authentically shabby yet welcoming, Market Bar encompasses everything we all loved so much about how Dalston used to be without being too painfully hipster.

One of the best things about the bar is the price. Potent yet delicious, unpretentious house cocktails start around £5, the house beer is red stripe – served in the can of course. Spirits and mixers are liberally poured into plastic pint glasses in line with the simplistic theme and if you really want to push the boat out a bottle of Prosecco will set you back 21 pounds.  You can currently use your card with no minimum spend and the bar staff are always astoundingly friendly, especially when you consider how busy they are.

Without fail on a Saturday night the place is packed by ten o’clock and the door staff then operates a one in one out policy in order to stick to the 150 person capacity.   The queue outside is a testament to how good the venue is and by half 9 on the weekend chances are you will have to stand in line too.

My favorite thing of all is the music, there are no big name line ups but you are guaranteed that every DJ brings with them a host of eclectic tunes.  And I don’t use that word lightly, sets can include anything from 90’s rnb classics, Motown and 70’s and 80’s disco, to dancehall, reggae, ska and Hindi Michael Jackson covers!  They also throw in an awful lot of Mariah!

I realise this teeters on the edge of sounding quite cheesy but somehow the combination of nostalgic tunes, cheap alcohol and extreme body heat evokes only feelings of euphoria.  It’s a really easy place to let your guard down and have fun. When the whole crowd is dancing and singing along the good vibes are infectious.

The only things that I would possibly change about Market Bar are the shortage of toilets and the lack of air con. When it’s hot its really, really hot so be prepared to sweat but as it is very dark on the dance floor you needn’t worry too much about how you look anyway.

For smokers and those who just need to cool down there is a covered area at the front of the building and most nights of the week you can pick up street food whilst you are out there too.

Unfortunately like most of the great venues in Dalston, the Market Bar’s charm is probably living on borrowed time.  I don’t think it will be too long until the secret is out and it becomes over run with TOWIE cast wannabes but for now if you are looking for a venue where you can guarantee a night of fun then this place is a must.