No, it’s not the latest fashion trend (‘get that poverty-stricken slum look for just £500!’). But it’s just as jaw-droppingly cynical: a trendy east London bar, the kind of place where raucous people gather to spend their super-size wages on buckets of Beaujolais and gruyere flavour crisps, themed around the Brazilian shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro.
Curiosity drove us one Sunday afternoon to see for ourselves this latest offering in self-conscious east London irony. But to our confusion we found the doors open, the lights on and nobody home.
Except a couple of equally confused young women who seemed hopeful that we might be the people running the show. The pub showed all the evidence of a busy Saturday night: glasses on tables, overflowing ashtrays, discarded and forgotten coats and scarves. But not a person in sight – or so it appeared, until I made the slightly disturbing discovery of a person asleep on a sofa in the corner.
Was this a homeless person? Or perhaps the pub manager? Surely this was taking the whole slum thing a bit too far? Had this place really pursued its own joke with such slavish zeal that it had forgotten it was actually meant to be a London pub?
So anyway, we had a good look around, admired the artfully placed ‘shantytown’ bric-a-brac and the décor, helped ourselves to a bottle of wine from behind the bar, and left.
If you’re taking your Rio Shantytown conceit to such levels, I’m not paying London prices for a bottle of your cheap red. PB