Thea Lewis-Yates reviews Bad Sports bar in Hackney
Bad Sports is one of those edgy, low-key shacks that seem to perpetually shoot up in the wilds of Hackney. A taqueria upstairs, an American sports bar downstairs, here's a proposition that's so simple, yet so right, you wonder why it hasn't been done before.
Sidekick and I start the evening downstairs with Coatbridge Negroni, the classic's traditional red vermouth substituted for Buckfast. Yes, Buckfast - the fuel of choice of Glasgow Gorbals nut-jobs that was, once charmingly labelled by a senior politico as "a badge of pride amongst those involved in antisocial behaviour." Yep, it’s a far cry from the Negroni’s refined Florentine roots (Bad Sports likes to throw curveballs) but hilarious and non-PC, it’s also delicious. NBA and NFL games are screened to everyone’s total disinterest and the vibe is chilled and convivial. A hipster ‘Cheers’ springs to mind - double denim, mom jeans, plaid shirts and a lot more facial hair than Kirstie Alley.
We shuffle upstairs for tacos. No Mexican/American dividing walls here - badaboom! Sea bream with achiote, salsa veracruz and mixed pickle is a little sexpot: salty, greasy, fishy, citrusy, moist and crisp. The Cheeseburger Taco, described by our likeable waitress as ‘something she dreams about at 2a.m’ is indeed a guilty pleasure. Gooey, melty Monterey Jack on pink burger steak oozes into the corn tacos - a so-wrong-its-right fix. Iberia Secreto, that often overlooked pork shoulder cut, is an inspired filling. The accompanying zingy pineapple and a fiendishly hot Arbol salsa cuts through the rich fatty marbled pork like a knife though butter. It’s washed down with my current guilty pleasure, a frozen Margarita. Bad Sports’s Tequila-turbocharged slushies are retro kitsch joy: the favoured hit of a 17 year old me, up-for-it…and utterly clueless.
Bad Sports is a buzzy addition to the already chock-a-block East London scene. It’s open till 2 am at weekends, where the vibe ramps up about 10 gears: for those not fussed about sporting a hungover bad look the next day.
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