Sundowners in Spitalfields at Alfi


As Cilla Black didn’t quite sing, “What’s it all about, Alfi?” The answer is a relatively simple one. East London – or at least the Spitalfields end of it- is now playing home to one of the city’s most stylish and distinctive bars and restaurants, a place that offers Italian-accented drinks with flair and chutzpah to spare, to say nothing of a food menu that’s distinctive, intelligent and well-matched to the cocktails and wine on display. Whether you’re popping in for a quick drink after work, a romantic evening with one’s inamorata or a full-on three course dinner, there is something at Alfi for everyone.

There are two distinct spaces, a buzzy bar area and a quieter and more sedate restaurant that nonetheless offers the same top-flight range of drinks that you can find in the bar. And make no mistake, the drinks here are very, very good indeed, showing a rare intelligence and creativity that are worlds away from the other options in and around Spitalfields Market, where Alfi has set up its store.

We kick off with a couple of the bar’s signature drinks, the Cherry Kiss and the East 8 hold up. I’m more impressed by the latter, a riot of fruit flavours mixed with vodka and Aperol that would be the perfect thirst-quencher on a hot day, but the tangy punch of the former is a lip-smacking delight, too.

We then opt for a couple of different wines, taking the sommelier’s suggestion of an effervescent, near-sparkling Austrian Riesling, and then, even more thrillingly, a couple of glasses of the Sotaterra orange wine from Spain. It is deservedly listed on the menu as “Adventurous”, but in fact its complex, blossoming flavour – while far from conventional – is the perfect drink for a warm(er) evening, and, at a comparatively inexpensive £45 a bottle, it works very nicely.

Finally, we round things off with a couple of bourbon-based cocktails, the ‘Without a Trace’; the combination of bourbon, ginger ale, honey and lemon juice makes this one go down exceptionally smoothly and gives it an almost medicinal quality, if, of course, your doctor was recommending the finest and best-mixed cocktails one can try.

There is, of course, an eclectic food menu, and in the interests of moderation, we stick to a few of the small plates from the restaurant’s a la carte. (There’s also a selection of more snacky food from the bar menu.) Baked scamorza and sourdough is the cheese on toast of your dreams, and the vegans amongst you will be delighted by the combination of Jerusalem artichokes and morels. However, it’s the polpo alla ligure and the king prawns with lovage mayo that really show the full skills of the kitchen, making this an unmissable destination both to drink in and eat in.

Alfi, then, has entered the conversation with style, flair and chutzpah to spare. What’s it all about, Alfi? It’s about making the best new bar and restaurant in Spitalfields, and making it very fine indeed. We wholeheartedly approve.

Alfi, 3 Crispin Place, London E1 6DW. For more information, and for bookings, please visit