“Well be-bop-a-Lula she’s my baby. Be-bop-a-Lula I don’t mean maybe.”
For those of you uninitiated into the world of rockabilly, ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ is the genre-defining 1956 hit by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps, an ode to the “queen of the teens” and Gene’s “baby doll”.
Now, over half a century later, Be-Bop-A-Lula is the name of a new 50’s rock and roll themed pub – London’s first I am told – which opened late last week on 68 Green Lanes in Stoke Newington.
Set on the site of The Monarch, a pub that was serving pints well before Gene Vincent serenaded his way across the states, Be-Bop-A-Lula is a strange but appealing mash-up between American 50s diner and a classic British pub.
The menu is a pun-tastic delight of all the American classics and diners can choose between the likes of the Hound Dog, Reet Petite Pepper Squid and the Do The Mash Potato.
This being an American joint, the menu isn’t short of fatty decadence. Those feeling the most outrageous could perhaps order the macaroni and cheese with pulled pork starter, followed by The Famous Elvis Sandwich of mashed banana, peanut butter and bacon. My dining partner and I opted for the Chicano Rock Cut Nachos, followed by the BBKing Ribs and the classic Be-Bop-A-Burger.
Now I often find ordering nachos without first seeing a portion can be a risky game – dry doritos, rubbery cheese and no guacamole comes to mind. Yet I can honestly say the Be-Bop-A-Lula nachos were some of the best I’ve ever had. The freshly baked tortilla chips – which don’t come out of a bag like in so many other places – are the perfect sturdy base for a big dolloping of cheese, guac, sour cream and jalapeños.
The burger was of a similar good quality. Those looking for the kind of fancy burger that has come to dominate London’s food scene over the last few years may be disappointed at the lack of a creative slaw or the single option when it comes to cheese (you either have it or don’t). Of course a lack of extras puts the patty at centre stage – in this case, it’s generously thick and wonderfully juicy. Don’t worry – it’s still served in a brioche roll.
The highlight of the ribs, aside from the ridiculously big portion, was the the spicy BBQ sauce which doubles as the perfect dip for the chunky hand-cut chips. My only criticism is that I probably would of prefered something other than the overly-mayonnaised coleslaw that accompanied the ribs. Although perhaps it’s there as a respite for those who can’t handle their spice.
For dessert we just managed to squeeze in a portion of the Harry Belafonte banoffee pie with ice cream. While this was perfectly enjoyable, to sink three courses at the Be-Bop-A-Lula is a a bit of a feat, so unless your sweet tooth is especially strong I recommend that this is the course you skip.
Pricing is on the expensive side with mains costing between £10-15, but the size of the portions guarantee that you won’t need any more food for the rest of the day.
As for alcohol, patrons can expect all the regular British pub classics plus two American beers on draft – the always popular Sierra Nevada and the deadly Lagunitas IPA. Ignoring the warnings of the bartender, I opted for the later and while the rich, hoppy IPA is undeniably delicious, I certainly am regretting that final 6.2% beer as I type with a heavy head this morning.
Despite the jukebox and the Elvis memorabilia, the Be-Bop-A-Lula is first and foremost a pub at heart. The lingering atmosphere of the old Monarch means you never feel like you have been transported stateside, but instead feel like a slice of the states has come to you.
For this reason, Be-Bop-A-Lula is the perfect new hangover hangout for the people of Stoke Newington – they even do Rock ‘n’ Roasts every Sunday. Plus the promise of regular live bands and Rock-aoke nights, alongside a 2am weekend license, suggests that this quirky pub has the potential to become a good night out in itself.