They've run fashion-crowd hangouts in London's arty East End. Now David Waddington and Pablo Flack want café society to head to a wasteland warehouse for French food, rare wine and lip-synching trannies. Cat Callender drops in

How about we put turf on the loading bay entrance to the restaurant?" chirps Pablo Flack. Together with fellow Yorkshire man David Waddington, he's planning the opening night of their new east London restaurant, Bistrotheque. "You know, make it look like Tim Burton would if he were trying to recreate an English Garden."

How about we put turf on the loading bay entrance to the restaurant?" chirps Pablo Flack. Together with fellow Yorkshire man David Waddington, he's planning the opening night of their new east London restaurant, Bistrotheque. "You know, make it look like Tim Burton would if he were trying to recreate an English Garden."

"Yeah," exclaims Waddington "I'm thinking roses, hydrangeas, foxgloves..."

"It's gotta have drama," interrupts Flack.

"Let's forget taste..." agrees Waddington.

"Perhaps a crane could lower Tina Turner down in the middle of the loading bay as she sings 'Nutbush City Limits'," he pips.

An echoey silence fills the space.

Outside the converted 1930s clothing factory that houses Bistrotheque's three distinct dining, drinking and entertainment areas, an abandoned fridge teeters on the edge of the pavement, a clapped-out Vauxhall Cavalier nestles in a junkyard next door, while the occasional joy-rider screech of a car burning up the cobbled street pierces the silence. It's an unlikely location for a restaurant. But in the same way that Manhattan's Meat Packing District was given a facelift when fashionable Bistro Pastis flung open its doors and attracted a hip clientele, Flack and Waddington are hoping their venture will lure in a modern-day café society (artists, activists, style pundits).

You see there are diners who have a hunger not just for fancy food, but for immersing themselves in the type of cutting-edge scene that makes them feel that they are at the hub of things. If London is indeed home to such a scene, it's in the East End. Until recently, its heartbeat could be located in Shoreditch. But the launch of Bistrotheque could change that.

"We were bored of the Shoreditch-DJ- gastro-pub thing, so we decided to find a tin shed in an industrial zone." As the 31-year-old Flack explains his choice of location, two teens saunter past as if on cue, knock on the window, and flick V-signs at him. "This is a pocket of no-man's land we can stamp our signature on."

If anyone can make an obscure destination restaurant buzz with bookings and the chink of china, it's Flack and Waddington. Between them, they've not only run and managed hip drinking-den-eateries such as the Bricklayers Arms, 333 Club, Mother Bar and the Electricity Showrooms, that put Shoreditch on the map back in the late 1990s, but they've been responsible for the fun-packed nights (transvestite DJs, bingo and domino rallies), that made this part of town the party scene it is today.

It's three weeks until the launch and the electricians haven't finished laying the 9,500m of cable it's taken to rewire the warehouse. As for the builders, they've been called back to rectify the small cement mishap blocking the drains. Downstairs, in the dimly lit, wood-paneled Napoleon bar, bartender Jonny Santer (he trained with cocktail king Dick Bradsell), is coaching his staff how to shake, stir and build a Dirty White Mother.

Upstairs, in the Aspirin-white gallery space that is the dining-area room-set (so called because of the film set-effect created by the warehouse's interior walls that don't meet the ceiling), Flack and Waddington are huddled over a lengthy "to do" list. It includes chasing the ETA of the bar furniture, juke-box, brilliant cut-glass mirror and hand-carved wooden Napoleon heads that will decorate the bar; not to mention the whereabouts of the ballroom walls (reclaimed from Northumberland's Otter- burn Hall), that are to be installed in the dining area; the menu designs; the neon restaurant * sign for the outside of the building and the invites for the launch.

"Opening Bistrotheque, I've had that feeling of catwalk fear," mutters a weary Flack. "All catwalk shows come together at the last minute. But whereas on the runway you can pin a dress moments before and sort it out in production, the statement we are making here is permanent and can't be unpinned or re-sewn."

Both should know. Prior to his current incarnation, the 33-year-old Waddington trained at Central Saint Martins as a menswear designer. And Flack still juggles life as a restaurant proprietor and fashion designer (together with Hazel Robinson, he designs cutting-edge label House of Jazz, whose studio is sandwiched behind Bistrotheque's dining-rooms). Although the boys are at pains to emphasise Bistrotheque's broad appeal which they hope will reach beyond the tight focus of both the fashion crowd and East End art elite. "It's the kind of place people can use as their local or swing by and eat their favourite dish," beams Waddington.

For those after a tipple and a pub quiz hosted by Jarvis Cocker, there's the Napoleon bar with jukebox, House of Jazz-designed bespoke furniture (bench, bar stools, carpet and bar mirror commissioned by Courvoisier), and décor reminiscent of the Victorian opulence of old cockney boozers. If you're hankering after a more hedonistic scene, there's Bistrotheque's Playroom (also on the ground floor). It offers the type of nights that earned Waddington and Flack their reputation: tranny lip-synching with Jonny Woo; the Lavender Panther Crew DJ night; as well as live bands and screenings of film shorts. And those after a taste-bud-tantalising moment, can bound upstairs to the austere dining-rooms, simply lit by utilitarian bulbs.

"Fusion food is not what we're about," says Flack of the duo's choice of old-fashioned bistro cuisine. "Nor are Michelin stars. We have no beef with the idea of a standard of excellence, it's just the theatre as restaurant side of things where you have to book six months in advance and get dressed up - that's really not us."

Bistrotheque's menu is simple. Each classic Gallic gastronomic hit (from the coq au vin to the velvety duck confit and piquant steak tartare), recalls the comfort factor of traditional blue-collar bistro food. "Of course, the challenge has been to create the ultimate version of each dish," says Waddington, who collaborated closely with head chef Tom Collins (only 23, he's been working in kitchens since the tender age of 14). This entailed scouring the country for the most succulent chicken (black-legged ones for those interested); sourcing small, artisanal producers of exceptional wines such as Christian Adine's Domaine de la Conciergerie Chablis and Robert Groffier's Gevrey Chambertin Pinot Noir; and tracking down the perfect brioche (from Patisserie Dupont).

It's 5pm and one week from the opening night. A practically horizontal Flack slopes in. "Haven't you heard?" he drawls. "We've postponed the launch. Turns out Alexander McQueen's hosting an event on the night we were due to open. Most of our clientele are going, so we're delaying by one week. Who knows, perhaps the ballroom walls might have arrived by then." Perhaps.

In spite of the delay, the restaurant itself is open and has already attracted members of the neighbouring creative community such as artists Jake Chapman, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Turner Prize winner Wolfgang Tillmans, as well as fashion pals such as stylist Katie Grand, Marc by Marc Jacobs accessory designer Katie Hillier, and designers Sophia Kokosolaki, Giles Deacon and Luella Bartley. One thing Flack and Waddington need not worry about, is creating a buzz.

Flack is joined by Waddington who, now that they've got two weeks to go until the opening night, orders a bottle of wine. "I'll have the Jordan Chardonnay."

"Ah yes," quips Flack. "A lovely full-bodied wine from the Jordan family stable. Aren't they the ones with that famous daughter?"

Bistrotheque, 23 Wadeson Street, London E2, tel: 020 8983 7900

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