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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

London Restaurant Reviews - Beagle

Working like a dog? Come to Hoxton to rest and play

Words & Photography by Simeen Kadi

Name: Beagle

Where: 397 - 400 Geffrye Street, London, E2 8HZ  http://www.beaglelondon.co.uk

Cost: Average £6 for starters and £16 for mains. Cocktails from £8.

About: Beagle is in the railway arches right next to Hoxton station. Sitting on the large terrace, the view of the back of the Geffrye Museum is almost bucolic. And, on a rare sunny day in London, there are few better places to while away an afternoon.

What we drank: The Bloody Mary here is made with vodka infused with chorizo which gives the drink a deep, smoky flavour. Their signature martini is also excellent with coriander bitters and caraway balancing out the sweetness of the vermouth.

When you are on your second martini and the sun has decided to come out, on the terrace is exactly where you want to be for some stylish people-watching and languid weekend lounging. I have now been here a few times and sat both inside and outside. The huge glazed arches mean light-flooded interiors while the terrace is sheltered and quiet, facing only a pedestrianised street.

What we ate: Starters such as Octopus with Tomatoes come wood-fired and anointed with a fresh and bright coriander sauce. Beetroot, Bitter Leaves and Bantam Egg makes use of the freshest ingredients, brought together by a zippy vinaigrette.

The Crab, Samphire and Cucumber Salad was as cool and crisp as it read on the menu.
Mains were very British in their provenance and cooking style. Tamworth Pork Chop came with lentils and a deep, meaty gravy.

Onglet was cooked as rare as it should be and came with fat chips cooked (two, three times? Who knows?) in duck fat. I would have preferred skinny, French-style fries, but I may be in a minority on this.
The wood-fired treatment of food is something of a speciality here; Beagle's location under a railway line means no gas is permitted. And so, a necessity becomes a virtue as dishes come tinged with a hint of wood-flame as the kitchen relies on wood burning stoves.

We have not tried the desserts but we have watched others nod and smile agreeably at the variety of puddings proffered. The kitchen will also bake a cake for your birthday celebrations and I watched a large party singing along heartily around a birthday cake - at least until the birthday girl accidentally set fire to her hair while blowing out the candles. But, the sun was out and the setting was so convivial that no one seemed to mind.

Likes: Great food, relaxed atmosphere and truly helpful staff. The cocktails keep flowing on the terrace and the music is exceptionally good.

Dislikes: In fact, there is very little not to like about Beagle. So, I will have a mini-gripe about these teeny-tiny annoyances. The bar snacks are well made but vary greatly in size. The pork pie was a good hunk of meat wrapped in a thick wedge of pastry alongside homemade piccalilli. The pig's head croquettes, however, were superb but infuriatingly small - I could have eaten 3 portions on my own. Another mystery is why food from the restaurant cannot be ordered in the bar area - we were given some excuse about licencing laws which sounded highly implausible.

Verdict: Beagle is bound to become the go-to destination of the summer (now that things are looking promising weather-wise). It is already in my top 10 for casual alfresco drinking and dining.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a great place... I am eyeing that pork chop like a hawk and I wouldn't mind a hint of wood-flame... makes it even more delicious.


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