After a successful year at London’s Street Feast market and touring festivals countrywide, popular Barbecue street food vendor HotBox approached interior architect, Shed, to create its first permanent joint in East London.
Co-founders Basit and Preeya Nasim and head chef, Lewis Spencer, made a pilgrimage across Texas in 2013 and bravely agreed that whilst they could borrow from the core principles and flavours discovered on their trip, it was crucial they develop their own style of cooking. This has resulted in a varied international menu at HotBox where anything goes, so long as it has been smoked to perfection.
Shed took inspiration from this process of slow cooking to create the 160m² ground floor restaurant on Commercial Street. Thus, the Grade II listed exterior with high arched windows is boldly painted black, the HotBox red neon logo – a leftover from their days on the road – hung just inside the lobby, illuminating the restaurant entrance.
The interior envelope continues the simple application of the colour black, whilst subtly referencing the bare bone cabins and trailer eateries found throughout the Deep South. Metal cladding frames the theatre of the kitchen pass, whilst blackened timber panels herald the all so important fuel of the fire. This creates a powerful canvas for HotBox to take ownership of the space, without any of the usual Barbeque joint clichés.
This same no-nonsense approach is also applied to the dining experience; backyard style communal feasting is elevated with hand crafted tables and benches, the reclaimed timber tops sourced and finished to bring warmth to the mid floor.
Nestled below HotBox is 46 & Mercy – a sleek, modern bar serving up a succinct cocktail menu of complimentary flavour profiles. Patrons descend the dimly lit stairs to find a white box that has been brought to life by flashes of brightly-coloured artwork and mismatched furniture – a collection of mid-century pieces influenced by Andy Warhol’s infamous Factory parties.
Hoop and Condesa chairs sit alongside the infamous Togo sofa, whilst a collection of bespoke ottomans in clashing psychedelic velvets encourage large groups to descend from the restaurant. Light levels are kept low; the mirror polished bar top and silver foil bathrooms a not so subtle nod to the king of pop art.
46 & Mercy will exhibit a regularly rotating collection of original works by rising East London artists, whilst also positioning itself amongst the cultural hub of the east end with a selection of secret gigs and live music events on its roster.