Bar review: Memory Box, High Street Croydon

By - Tuesday 15th August, 2017

Two-for-one Jaffa cakes under Croydon flyover

Photo author’s own.

When I heard about Memory Box, I thought it was in Boxpark. No, not because I’m confused by the word ‘box’.  The opening in April got some coverage and I caught the pics (obviously not the exterior ones of the place tucked under Croydon flyover) and a predictably on-trend vibe of beards and floaty off-the-shoulder tops, sometimes worn as part of the same outfit, so therefore I assumed…  but this is an off-beat box.

Hearing of Jaffa cake cocktails – and thanks, social media, because these aren’t on the menu yet but they’ll make them if you ask and they’re priced at two for one – we dropped by on Saturday evening. Emphatically not a biscuit, those cocktail-cakes are full of the dreamy, creamy, orangey goodness of Cointreau, dark creme de cacao, cream (of course) and chocolate sprinkles. We sat down to sip and take in our surroundings.

Memory Box is furnished in iconic Bitzer style. With bitzer this and bitzer that, it’s ended up low key retro, hence (possibly) the name, but retro what? It’s a bit industrial, with metal pipework protruding from the walls. It’s black and fluoro pink, so a bit early ’80s King’s Road Chelsea, and a bit kitsch too, with Snow White and Jessica Rabbit on the walls. It’s also a little bit pub grub, with jacket potatoes, ham, egg and chips and scampi on the lunch menu and exactly the same condiment holders as they use in the Dog and Bull in Surrey Street, so that your cocktail glass perches alongside a bottle of Sarson’s.

People were having fun, because cocktails are

And it did feel like somewhere from memory, somewhere I’d have gone to back before there was ID on the door, when very young girls in lots of slap could blag their way in then drink illegally but entirely safely, supervised by the adults around us and unable to get hammered because of the cost of alcohol. Today’s teenagers are so much better off left to themselves in the local park.

It opens at 7.00am and serves breakfast including cereal, in what’s presumably a snap, crackle and nod to present day Hoxton. Then when lunch comes around, it’s baked potato time: the eighties were all about those carbs. (That nutritional advice worked out well, didn’t it?) My school friends and I liked chewy frozen pizza and chips because back then, pizza was cool; I half expected to find it at Memory Box, and chew in a haze of nostalgia. It’s all a bit confusing – or perhaps that was the two-for-one cocktails.

But people who were meeting there were clearly having fun, because cocktails are. The staff are friendly and welcoming, and they shake those drinks like they mean it. We watched for a bit while we sipped, then strolled down to the restaurant quarter in search of dinner. With so much going on, it’s hard to know if everything on the Memory Box menu is a success, but the chances of something that you like must be high.  It’s likeable.

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Writer and editor. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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