A definitive guide to the land of lavatories
If an area is ever to be taken seriously by Lonely Planet or Time Out than the first thing it requires is not history, culture, character or even a stable government that prevents genocide, no, no – the first thing it needs is a ‘market’.
Some time ago this was understandable, what with the goods on sale at a ‘market’ being the easiest way to fully understand the idiosyncrasies of that specific location and thus allow the first steps of immersing yourself in them. But that was in a time when a ‘market’ sold local delicacies or the teeth from animals that had been slaughtered by the local Chief or indeed an hour with one of the aforementioned Chief’s daughters. Unfortunately all markets (globally) now simply sell cheap looking banksy prints, old vinyl, hummuos and some sort of local fruit juice that is actually Robinsons squash diluted to varying degrees.
Broadway Market in South Hackney epitomises the most effective way of leveraging the inherent desire for humans to congregate at ‘markets’ to create a whole micro economy (granted the Medina in Marrakesh may well dispute this). What this means is a collection of public houses strewn along its outskirts that have ultimately gentrified in direct correlation to the market serving as a place to buy things you need to a place to look at things you could never have use for.
The dove sits smack in the middle of the market and is a charismatic boozer in that it has forgone temptation to turn itself into some sort of hellish over stylised space and has stuck with the fundamentals that allow places to retain the character that the staff do their best to inadvertently claw away at.
There is an excessively large amount of beers available, a rather clever way to distance yourself from wetherspoons and then allow yourself to price beers in the same bracket as vintage wine.
All in all this is the sort of establishment that would rather you soiled yourself at the bar then dare ask for a round of ‘flaming sambuccas’, which though commendable means one effectively looks through the lavish menu of foreign beers and ale’s, gets flustered and invariably asks for a bottle of becks much to the chagrin of the surrounding 20 punters.
The toilets are unisex. This might seem revolutionary, or endearingly modern, which at Fabric nightclub – where the toilets simply serve as another arena, it is, but in a pub this is simply unacceptable.
The sanctity of the toilet, whether it be where women whack on more slap and moan about everything or where men stand in silence and enjoy the urinal fresh refuge from social norms and requirements, is something that must remain as a basic human right. What instead you have in the Dove is both sexes awkwardly shuffling next to each other, upholding all the social assumptions that the toilets are supposed to give you a hiatus from, them being things such as men not looking in mirrors or caring about their appearance and women not actually going to the toilet. In effect all mystery is removed and thus the experience becomes very transient as one tries there best to ensure that the status quo on how the sexes behave is upheld.
There must be the occasional, soul sapping break free from this by someone, but I imagine they then stay in the cubicle waiting for at least two whole new sets of toilet dwellers to come and go to ensure anonymity, even if this means the people they are with start to assume they are dead.
The Porcelain Gentleman:
It’s a relatively dark experience in terms of both lux levels and the fear of doing anything that isn’t washing one’s hands in silence. Which is a great shame given that this is a pub to be admired and indulged. A toilet though, is ultimately about comfort which is impossible under such conditions – 3/10.