A recent poll by the BBC asked if people feel more or less connected to others than they did a decade ago.
Interestingly, in a time when we are inclined to withdraw from the world directly around us in favour of checking Facebook updates on our phone, more people said that they felt neighbourhood ties and links were getting stronger rather than weaker. In many ways any move towards a solely digital future has always triggered an analogue reaction back, just think of how CD’s were supposed to be the end of vinyl. Any successful technological step forward must still contain an intrinsic human connection, whether it’s a hand written slogan over the top of a UKIP poster or a fingerprint smear on the screen of a new smart phone. Technology is a tool to enhance our interaction with the world not a substitute for it.
Hairdressers play an interesting role in the local community, their commodity being the informal exchange of information both creatively and conversationally. They have their ear to the ground to the goings on in the community around them. Working as one myself one of the main topics of conversation I’ve been having lately is the redevelopment of the London Road area. The amount of new shops, bars and restaurants rapidly appearing, many of which this magazine has reported on previously are certainly giving London Road a new exciting feel. One of the new establishments contributing to this buzz is the Shuffle Bar and Kitchen
Nestled amongst the new restaurants and bars at the foot of London road in what is fast becoming the hub of Brighton’s new food and drink scene the Shuffle Bar is a spacious contemporary bar/kitchen. It boasts a German industrial warehouse décor (complete with a custom curved drainpipe bar), offset by the blocks of pastel coloured walls that currently house a fine selection of pop art portraits.
As we enter we are warmly greeted by the bar staff with a reassuringly firm handshake. Friendly interactivity is the mantra for this place. We are encouraged to contribute to the constantly rotating custom built digital jukebox, after which the bar is named. We are shown how easy it is to access from our phones and I can report that even this hairdresser was able to follow the few simple steps needed to throw on a tune.
A look at the food and cocktail menu handed to me brings me back into the room with a loud stomach rumble. A vast array of ice tea cocktails are Shuffle’s speciality breed of cocktail, perfect for a summers evening. I have known cocktail menus to be a little overwhelming at times but this one is simply laid out in a straight forward clean way which removes any trace of pretentiousness that I feel whenever I hear the word mixology (I am all for sensorial exploration but come on, do I need to know how a magician performed their trick? Just give me a drink that my taste buds will remember!). Happily the Shuffle bar has focused on the straightforward making of a good cocktail over the need to confuse anyone without a chemistry degree.
Understated simplicity continues over onto the food menu. A Shuffle skewer is exactly what it sounds like it is, but with a twist of drama in its presentation. A Shuffle Skewer is presented hanging from what looks like a candleholder with chilli oil that I pour through a small hole above. Slowly the oil makes its journey down the skewer, over the meat, peppers and portabella mushrooms adding a bit of colour and extra flavour to the bowl of garlic salt infused fries sitting below. Mmmm, a fest for the eye as well as stomach.
A side order of sliders is a welcome addition to the table. In an area previously renowned for its fast food joints the bite size burgers here are once again evidence of London Road’s new-found refinement. This is refinement it must be said, that is still reasonably priced (£8.95 for 3). Served in a mini artisan sesame bun with lettuce, Cherry tomato and caramelised red onion, there’s a choice of three; A Monterey Jack cheeseburger, a cheddar cheese and bacon burger and my favourite the haloumi and Portobello mushroom.
Asking for two of Shuffles most popular cocktails we are presented with a vodka based Berry Mint, a blend of raspberry, Chambord lemon, lime, fresh mint and Absolut vodka (£7.20) and a Bramble which consists of Beefeater gin, blackberry liqueur, lemon and lime (£7.20). Both drinks are suitably summery and more-ish, perfect for sipping in the sun while sitting in the scaffold board decked outside space at the rear of the establishment.
The Shuffle Bar is still a work in progress, the rear garden decking will soon become a Sailor Jerry inspired artwork and there is talk of a pizza oven being installed in the kitchen soon. The food and drinks are really very good and reasonably priced. But what I really find appealing about Shuffle is the way it has not been afraid to embrace technology and use it in a really a clever ‘Come in and contribute to the party’ way. For me the friendly feel and good hospitality of Shuffle as well as the new buzz that can be felt on the street outside just goes to show you that when well balanced, the future is an exciting place where neighbourhood ties can happily strengthen.
Shuffle Bar and, Kitchen is at 27 York Place, Brighton, BN1 4GU.