John Torode's - as in Smiths of Smithfields and occasionally MasterChef - latest bar has copped more then its fair share of criticism much of which is hard to understand. For a start its a very beautiful venue with a birdcage type exterior enhanced by high windows and funky, modern furniture. The Luxe's design is very much in keeping with the original Spitalfield's market albeit successfully updated for the noughties.
Second the service, whether at your table or the bar is slick and charming - there's not too much waiting around at this place. And finally it has a buzz reminiscent of when Smiths of Smithfield's first opened. It's not by any means hip, but it successfully strikes the balance for those city workers and wannabe hipsters for whom the other pubs in Commercial Street and Brick Lane are a little too grubby.
The first time I visited the Luxe was on a Monday night on which it had enough of a crowd and ambiance to justify drinking on the earliest school night. By the second visit we were at full-on Friday mode, with birthday parties, party girls and boys, and us - the occasionally motley drinking crew that included such luminaries as the Northerner, Lady Devon, Young Elvis, the Engineer, the Caister Boy, Betty Boo and the Architect and the Senorita to name but a few - meant I was never going to get off lightly.
And that turned out to be the case as, instead of stopping at three to four of the 6% Czech beers, Young Elvis and I powered through what must have been a dozen or so, and behaved accordingly. The Northerner wasn't best pleased. After all, she'd only had five caipirinhas.
Finally I called time, probably not a moment to soon, stumbling off into the night, and leaving the pretty young things to have some fun. Nevertheless I do think the Luxe is a very good addition to the Smithfield's portfolio and a welcome alternative to the awful banker bars of Bishopsgate. Not that you want too many more bankers there. Nor, if you take into account how I felt the next day, do you want to overdo the Czech beers. Don't say you haven't been warned.