The East End of London is now a destination for dining, at least partly due to restaurateurs Pablo Flack and David Waddington. The duo opened their first restaurant, Bistrotheque, 15 years ago in Bethnal Green. An ‘if you know, you know’ type of location – the quiet street doesn’t exactly come with huge footfall – it has played host to local artists, designers and creative types and more. If a reputation for wild parties brought them in the early days, they stayed for the industrial chic ambience, the classics-with-a-twist menu, and the warm welcome. ‘It’s the sort of place where, if someone’s mum and dad come to London, they bring them here for fish and chips,’ says Flack. Waddington adds that the combination of ingredients – no pun intended – used ensures a like-minded crowd. ‘If the building and location and the style of the operation makes sense to you, it’s a sort of filter,’ he says. ‘And then all the people in the room vibe off each other.’
Flack and Waddington have since brought this idea to various pop-ups as well as to Shoreditch, with Hoi Polloi in the Ace Hotel opening in 2013. A Bistrotheque pop-up cafe begins at MATCHESFASHION.COM’s townhouse 5 Carlos Place this month until the end of December. Next up is Manchester, where Cultureplex, the duo’s most ambitious project to date, opens in a warehouse space in the Northern Quarter of the city. Described as a ‘community centre’, it will feature a restaurant, event space, coffee bar and cinema. Here, Flack and Waddington – both card-carrying Northerners – reveal what the UK’s second city can expect.