Cereal Killer Cafe || London, UK

What in the world is this place??

Cereal Killer Cafe is one of the weirdest places I’ve ever been to. Ever. But weird in a good way.

Cereal Killer Cafe is a restaurant on Brick Lane in the Whitechapel district of London. Restaurant is kind of a lofty term for what CKC is though. The whole place is 90’s breakfast cereal themed.

Uh…tell me more?

Everything in this place is built for maximum nostalgia. If you were a child in the 90’s, this cafe is about to come for that nostalgia button and flog it to death.

In fact, it’s so 90’s themed, that the way my colleague and I found it was when we looked across to the other side of Brick Lane and wondered what the place covered in VHS tapes could have possibly been.

Featuring used VHS tapes

Just looking at the menu, we got a pretty big clue what we were in for:

My coworker and I decided to get different menu items so that we could spread out across this menu as best we could. I opted for the corn flake crusted grilled cheese. They went for the fruity pebble fried chicken.

But how’s the food?

That depends entirely on what you get. I got the grilled cheese.

Y U M

It came with a side of pizza sauce, and buddy let me tell you…this was a delicious grilled cheese sandwich. I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was, but not only was it way more delicious than I thought it would be, I was also inspired to consider changing the way I make my own grilled cheese at home. I haven’t done it yet, but this was very good.

The fruity pebble fried chicken on the other hand was a little less good. And it was almost entirely because of this->

Toothpaste basically

Upon ordering the fried chicken, my coworker was given an option of sauces. They opted for whatever this was called. It looked, smelled and tasted like children’s toothpaste. It was an affront to good taste, and was not appreciated among the two of us. But we did get a good story out of it.

Interior Decor

Imagine you’re a kid in the 90’s, and someone with money comes to you and says, “hey kid, I’m going to build a restaurant, and I need your help. Tell me everything you want in a restaurant in detail, and I’ll build exactly that.”

Well, you might want, like a stack of milk crates with TVs in it playing your favorite cartoons. Done.

You want all your favorite hard-to-get cereals proudly displayed in a custom display case with a custom wall light. Donezo, big guy.

Why stop there? You want your bed with authentic space jam sheets to be used instead of seats so you can take a nap right after you eat a 1000 calorie grilled cheese. Fuckin’ A right you do, little buddy. You got it.

In so many ways, Cereal Killer cafe is like a dream come true. But not all those childhood dreams are as good as an adult as they sounded when you were a kid.

Final Verdict

Would I go again? Heck yeah, I would. I don’t think I’d go by myself because this place is really meant to be enjoyed with other people, preferably people who haven’t experienced it yet. If you happen to see one, give it a try and see what you think. The worst thing that can happen is you get a good story.

Evans & Peel Detective Agency || London, UK

So you’re in London and you want to check out a speakeasy with a 1930’s setting and a detective agency motif…Evans & Peel Detective Agency is probably where you want to end up. Can you convince them to take on your case?

Why Should I Go Here?

Evans & Peel Detective Company is one of the most performative speakeasies I’ve ever been to. You have to have a quick wit to get in if you don’t have a reservation, but for anyone who can play along and improvise, Evans & Peel had a very playful atmosphere.

Where it is:

The Evans & Peel Detective Agency office is located in West Kensington, London.

Can I take a client here?

I don’t see why not.

Reservations?

If it’s a busy weekend, it would probably be a good idea to call ahead, but it’s not required.

How To Get In:

The first thing you have to do is find the door. It’s not the hardest place to find, but you do need to know exactly where it is. Once you find the door, You’ll be ready for the next test.

But how do you get in??

To get in, you use the intercom in the photo above. After a ring or two, a detective will speak to you and ask you if you have a reservation. If you don’t, he will ask you what you need the detective agency for. You’d better have a good answer.

If the detective is satisfied with the answer you gave him over the intercom, you’ll be allowed to come through the door. Just inside, there will be a stairway going down. This will be your time to prepare for questioning.

Once you get to the bottom of the stairs, you’ll find yourself in a detective’s office.

The detective’s office.

The detective will then begin to ask you questions about your case. Who are you looking for? When did you last see them? Why do you think they’re missing?

In my case, I was looking for my “uncle Carmine” who disappeared in New York two weeks prior. We believed that he had been working on weapons for The Germans (but that was just a rumor. We didn’t know for sure.) We were also asked to give a physical description of our missing family member (uncle Carmine was short and stout like a tea kettle and had last been seen in a heavy wool jacket and scarf. In the summer.)

If your story is bad, or if it doesn’t fit the 1930’s timeframe, you run the risk of not being let in. Prove you want to be there by giving them a compelling story and play along. If you give them a bad vibe, you won’t get to see what’s behind the book case.

oh, it’s a bar.

After successfully handing our case off to the detective, we were told to “go on in and relax while we work your case.” We never did find uncle Carmine though. Great drinks, lousy detectives.

Price:

Cocktail bar prices. 13-20 pounds/drink.

What To Wear:

Similar to The Red Phone Booth, you don’t need to be dressed to the 9’s, but something a little higher than casual is required.

What To Drink:

The menu at Evans & Peel is a dossier. No, really.

Pick your gangster poison.

The drinks are named after famous mobsters of days past. I opted for a “Jane Doe” which is shorthand in Evans & Peel for a mystery drink of the bartender’s choosing. My bartender told me that he would make me a “gin based” drink, but that’s all I knew going in. This is what I was given:

Jane Doe.

The drink was delicious, but I don’t remember the name. It contained gin, raspberry juice, a hint of lemon (bitters maybe?) and was very good. It was a bit like if all of the freezers in Jamba Juice stopped working, and instead of fixing them, the owners decided to make alcoholic drinks instead (free idea, Jamba. Get your shit together.)

Ambiance:

Evans & Peel will take you back to the days of 1930s gangsters and private eyes. It has a somewhat rustic motif going on, but the theme is clearly private investigations. The staff is playful and love to play along with whatever character you feel like being while you’re there.

It’s worth mentioning that they do have a group event-type-thing in case you want to take a party of 13 or more people. This involves more interaction and a bit more showmanship once you’re inside the speakeasy.

TL;DR Verdict:

I had a lot of fun with Evans & Peel. It challenges you to come up with something entertaining ahead of time and gives you a fun interaction just to get through the door. In a lot of ways, Evans & Peel reminds me of The Red Phone Booth. Friendly staff, and a slightly higher bar to get in, but if you’re in London, it’s a good spot to visit!

Wall || Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo has a reputation for having some of the best speakeasies in the world. Is it true? I’m not sure, but there is one bar I can tell you all about; Wall.

Where it is:

The physical address of Wall is Minato City, Minamiaoyama, 5 Chome−4−30 CoSTUME NATIONAL Aoyama Complex1F What does that mean? Hard to say. Japanese addresses are still a mystery to me. What I do know is that Wall is hard as hell to find.

In fact, as of the publish date of this post, Wall has been the most difficult speakeasy I’ve ever found. This place is difficult to find…don’t underestimate it. But honestly, that’s the fun of Wall. Maybe, with Wall, the destination really was in the journey. Maybe the real speakeasy was the friends I made along the way.

Reginald is a weird doctor, but he knows his shit.

In any case, if you find Reginald the Raptor, you know you’re in the right general location.

Can I take a client here?

As long as your client isn’t a typical Tokyo-ite who basically works 100%+ of the time, sure. It’s a pretty chill spot.

Reservations?

Not necessary.

Price:

A little pricey even for a speakeasy. I don’t remember exactly how much I was spending per drink, but I definitely remember it being a bit more expensive than I was expecting.

What To Wear:

Wall doesn’t have a dress code that I know of.

How To Get In:

Oookay…this is the hard part of this post. Let me start with google maps:

This is the only way I know how to do this. Send help.

Please refer to the above photo, the way to get to Wall is via the closest access road. Wall basically exists behind a small shopping mall, and only has one real way to get in as far as I can tell. To get to Wall, you end up having to go down an alley that doesn’t look too inviting, especially at night.

The way in

If you make it to the right alley, You’ll be greeted with the unmarked entrance of Wall. This foreboding looking door holds something truly special, but only if you have the will to go through it. If you get up the courage to open the door (it’s super heavy…) you’ll be in a vestibule with similar looking doors to your left and right.

In fact, when you go through the first door, you might even think you made a mistake and ended up in the wrong place. That’s okay, this is part of the charm of speakeasies. Maybe you did make a mistake. Maybe you’re not in the right place and you’re about to get arrested for trespassing. The door on your right is the door you want.

The last thing you see before you get murdered? Maybe if you get murdered in a swanky Tokyo speakeasy.

The reward for going through the right doors is great.

What To Drink:

Whiskey. Wall has a large selection of domestic Japanese whiskey, which, if you’re into that, there are probably better places to go in Tokyo (a whiskey bar for instance) but why would you go there when you can go to a hidden speakeasy?

Wall does have other mixed drinks as well, but their options are limited. Whiskey is probably what you want here.

I don’t really get the whole watermelon thing, but it’s a Wall original.

Ambiance:

The gimmick Wall uses is its namesake living wall of ivy (or whatever it is. I don’t know, I’m not a botanist…)

The famous green wall of Wall.

Wall has inside and outside seating which is great for hot-ass summer evenings. The outside seating is hidden from street view and helps keep the feeling that you’re in a secret place.

TL;DR Verdict:

Wall has a charm, but the interior is very minimalist. You won’t find complex theming at Wall, but what makes it special is in how hard it is to find. For those who have the ambition to find Wall, you’ll be a member of a relatively small group of speakeasy enthusiasts who were determined enough to go through doors they weren’t quite sure about in a place that is honestly a little alarming, especially when you’re a a girl by yourself in a new city.

Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium || Atlanta, GA

Both The Red Phone Booth and Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium are two of the most defining locations of Atlanta night life to me. Does that make me lame? Maybe, but probably not.

A good choir girl armed with darts.

Why Should I Go Here?

Sister Louisa’s isn’t a speakeasy, but it’s fun as fuck to go to. It’s irreverent and iconoclastic, but that’s part of the fun!

So I’ve heard

Sister Louisa’s has an backstory for itself that they elaborate on much better than I ever could. The story involves a wayward nun by the name of “Sister Louisa” who left her convent to start this bar. And what a bar it is.

The interior decoration is a bit haphazard, but the attraction of the place is in its humor. They have free ping pong tables to satisfy all of your drunk ping pong/beer pong needs on the second floor.

If you go on a Wednesday night, you can participate in one of the most unique karaoke nights you’ll ever experience. Although the karaoke song list is limited compared to a professional karaoke bar, the music is played live by a skilled organ player.

A man in plaid sings Alanis Morisette to live organ music

If you’re not the type who’s brave enough to take the neon “Fuck Fear” sign seriously enough to stand up and sing in front of a crowd, Sister Louisa’s offers audience members choir robes for you who want to sing along. It adds a layer of fun and interaction you don’t always get from karaoke.

Some girl in a choir robe during karoke night.

Can I Take Clients Here?

I mean, I did…but it has to be a certain type of client. They have to have a good sense of humor and be willing to put up with the atmosphere of this place.

Where it is:

Sister Louisa’s lives in Edgewood at 466 Edgewood Ave SE.

You know you’re in the right place when you find the box for “prary quests” on the front door.

Reservations?

No such thing at Sister Louisa’s.

Price:

Very cheap.

What To Wear:

Whatever you feel like. Anything more than casual will feel overdressed.

What To Drink:

Sister Louisa’s is known for their sangria. The sangria flows like the rivers of the Nile bringing a similar degree of culture with it.

Sister Louisa’s isn’t the place to go if you want to drink anything except swill that’s cheap and will get you quick drunk. If you feel like drinking beer and having a wild night, check out this dive. It’ll be worth your time.

Atmosphere:

Sister Louisa’s has a somewhat edgy, but playful milieu. If you take your religious beliefs seriously, you’ll probably find Sister Louisa’s low-key offensive. If on the other hand, you have a healthy sense of humor that will allow you to laugh a the more performative aspects of Christian religion, you’ll probably have a good time here.

The interior decoration is a bit haphazard, but not dirty. You won’t forget that you’re in a dive bar, but you’ll be having too much fun to care about the rough edges if you don’t appreciate that sort of thing.

TL;DR Verdict:

Sister Louisa’s checks a lot of boxes for me personally. It’s a bar that doesn’t take itself or anything else seriously. Nothing and nobody is special at Sister Louisa’s.

Sister Louisa’s encourages everyone who enters to take the advice of the glowing pink neon sign on the second floor that says “Fuck Fear”. This bar wants their visitors to step out of their shell and learn to laugh at themselves. If you’re not having the kind of day where you’re in the mood to do that, maybe go to Hard Rock Cafe or something instead.

The Red Phone Booth || Atlanta, GA

Definitely on my top 3 speakeasies of all time. Let’s get into it!

Where it is:

The Red Phone Booth is right in the heart of the downtown area off the Peachtree Center. The speakeasy is on the first floor of Amalfi Pizza and is attached to the pizza place as a joint business.

The phone booth itself sits on Andrew Young International Blvd NE, and if you walk down the street from Peachtree Center, it’s hard to miss.

The Red Phone Booth

Reservations?

Not required, but also not a bad idea if it’s a busy weekend.

Price:

It’s a cocktail place. Expect to pay $10-$15 per drink

What To Wear:

The dress code is casual, but nice. Don’t wear jeans and a ratty t-shirt. They won’t let you through the door if you look like you just got off a plane. I tend to wear a decent dress when I go. Have fun with it!

How To Get In:

To get into TRPB, you need to have the right phone number. The number changes on a rotating basis, and unless you’re a member, the speakeasy won’t give it to you.

If you’re not a member, that’s okay too. Ask your hotel concierge if they have the most up-to-date phone number. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. If they don’t, try another nearby hotel until you’re confident you’ve got the right one.

Once you have the number, mosey on down to the phone booth, go on into it and pick up the phone receiver. Dial the number you think is the right one, and the phone will ring a few times. If you got the right number, the panel in front of you will swing open and waitstaff will help you get seated.

What To Drink:

If you appreciate the finer things in life the way I do, TRPB offers absinthe drips, which is an experience you have to try if you haven’t had it before.

Some girl drinking absinthe the proper way.

At this cocktail joint, they do it right. A sugar cube dropped into a proper glass portioned with pure absinthe, pulled out and placed on a strainer spoon, lit on fire to caramelize the sugar and put out with an ice water drip.

But not everyone is into drinks as hard as absinthe, or the anise flavor you get with it. The Red Phone Booth staff are some of the best cocktail bartenders in the business. Let’s say you want something that can serve more than one person, well what you want is probably this monstrosity of a drink with a pirate ship made out of fruit in it:

Set sail for flavor town with…whatever this is.

If that’s not your speed, TRPB does offer a full cocktail menu. Their signature drink is a smoky Old Fashioned which was pretty good the one time I had it. Failing all else, give it a try and see what you think!

Ambiance:

The one thing I didn’t love about TRPB is that it’s also a cigar lounge. Being in smokey areas isn’t my most favorite environment to spend time, but the rest of the experience acts as an offset. There are nights it’s better and nights it’s worse, but as long as the drinks are on point, you won’t be wanting for another place to be.

TL;DR Verdict:

The Red Phone Booth is a great place if you’re into speakeasies. The environment is nice, the bartenders are always outstanding and it’s worth it to put aside some time to check it out if you’re in town. Highly recommended!

Hackventures Introduction

Just as a quick intro for anyone who doesn’t know what I do, when I go to a new area, I like to familiarize myself with as many speakeasies as I can. I’ve done this for a few years now and only just recently decided to document my travels, the speakeasies I hit and the people I meet along the way.

This place will document my adventures in this business including conferences, new cities, and oddities I run into. It could get weird, but that’s why I’m documenting it!