Genesis Cinema’s post-lockdown adaptation, The Yard, is a friendly and unpretentious back-alley bar making a welcome addition to the outdoor hospitality scene.
Visiting Genesis Cinema’s The Yard in Stepney Green, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve joined the Genesis crew.
At the end of a hard day’s work, once all the stray popcorn kernels have been vacuumed from the carpet, the art-deco chandelier has been polished, and punny announcements added to the billboard outside, it’s out the back with the gang for a cheeky pint and a heated debate of the days’ screenings.
‘I think they’re beautiful and all but… don’t you think Wes Anderson’s films are kind of, well… getting a bit samey?’
Entering through the front doors of the nation’s favourite indie cinema and up the grand staircase, we can’t help but peer longingly down the dim corridor to the screens (bring on the grand reopening on 17 May!).
But instead, it’s a sharp right, down some rough cement stairs that were likely never designed for the eyes of customers.
After declining complimentary blankets – we’re all seasoned professionals at this now so hats, scarves and thermals have become second nature – we are taken across the car park and into the shelter seating area. With wooden picnic benches, bright green fake grass and trailing ivy, the space has a festival food hall meets pub garden meets chalet vibe.
Staying true to their East London routes, The Yard favours Truman’s Beer, a historic Brick Lane institution. Cider, Lager and IPA are all on draught at £5.50 a pop. The IPA’s an excellent choice, its light, fruity aroma followed by bittersweet grapefruit notes. If that’s not your bag, you can pick up a canned craft beer for £5.20.
And of course, if you’re feeling fancy, the wine list has all the usual suspects, with a good range of Kray twins-inspired cocktails on offer.
Ordering through the website was a useful touch for those who haven’t yet accustomed to human interaction, but we jumped at the opportunity to get pally with Genesis’ delightful staff by placing our orders the traditional way. No thirsty technophobes here.
Even as the hail started, we remained perfectly dry – toasty, even, with the heaters beaming down on us, bright orange suns that refuse to set. Heads turned upwards to acknowledge the pitter-patter on the corrugated roof, but the raised voices simply added to the exuberance spirit of the evening.
The Yard’s reasonably priced pizzas are the order of the day, served in their traditional cardboard boxes. Top tip; rip off the lid to turn into two separate plates if you’re one for sharing. Unfussy, and on thin bases, these are pizzas any Italian would be happy to serve their Nonna. Some salted popcorn to complement the pints would have been a nice touch, but maybe that’s one to be saved for cinema seats.
Utilising the large bathroom facilities of the cinema, there’s no queue for a single pub toilet here. Big bonus point! The Yard feels like one of the most covid-secure venues we’ve visited since the reopening of outdoor hospitality: temperature checks at the door, generous supplies of hand sanitiser, and good air circulation around the sheltered outdoor space are greatly appreciated.
The Yard might feel somewhat rough and ready, but that’s entirely the point. It’s gloriously sociable, rustic and unpretentious, a wonderful way to ease back into Friday night beers with close colleagues or friends. This is one pandemic adaptation we hope is here to stay.
If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy our review of The Hub, Victoria Park.
Can you support us?
As a not-for-profit media organisation using journalism to strengthen communities, we have not put our digital content behind a paywall or membership scheme as we think the benefits of an independent, local publication should be available to everyone living in our area.
We are powered by members. Hundreds of members have already joined. Become a member today from as little as £3 to support impact journalism and the local community.