Beef&Brew, Kentish Town, review: ‘A quality joint’

Beef & Brew

Beef & Brew - Credit: Archant

Bridget Galton enjoys the minimalist charm of this laid-back steakhouse.

Perhaps it was the arrival of The Chicken Shop and Pizza East that’s turned a hitherto uninspiring corner of Kentish Town into foodie central.

The last year alone has seen the revamp of the Bull and Gate, the arrival of Joe’s Southern Kitchen, and now Beef&Brew, one of those on trend places that’s pared its offer back to a very few dishes, hopefully done well. (The clue is usually in the name and who doesn’t think beef and beer make a happy culinary marriage?)

With its well pitched prices and convivial elbow to elbow atmosphere, it’s aiming to be a casual quality neighbourhood joint that Kentishtowners return to again and again.

Don’t go expecting rib eye, sirloin or any of the prime cuts you’d find in Hawksmoor or even Gaucho’s. Chef Jess Simmons, who worked at Angela Hartnett’s Murano before setting up the kitchen at London Fields Brewery, is not only fond of putting beer into her recipes, but she’s serving the better value cuts.

The butcher’s guide to bovine cuts on the wall serves notice that this is all about flank, skirt, hanger and brisket.

Everything about the place understatedly insists minimalism. From the butcher-style white tiled walls and scuffed floor to the simple schoolchairs, wooden tables and indecently brief cocktail menu riffing on a negroni/campari theme. (Tant pis if you don’t like bitters)

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Starters are apparently passe and here the pithy offer features only two croquette sharing sides, each little bombs of melting pleasure encased in the crispiest of breadcrumbs – a cauliflower cheese (£4) that miraculously tastes of both its main ingredients, and a brisket jam that exploded meaty juice over the table when you bit into it. Lovely.

Steaks are hanger, £10 cooked quick and rare, flat iron, or rump, (£12.50) served with a rich truffle béarnaise, or Argentinian style chimi-churri. (extra at £1.5)

Crispy skin on chips (a little dry, £3), a tasty roasted broccoli and garlic (£4) or a simple salad with walnuts (£3) are the sides.

Starting at £8 the burgers are a twist on the usual sandwich. The generous mound of salt beef, pickle and beer cheese almost sunk my friend before she could manage dessert, The short rib with gravy and steak bun that combines a steak and patty also sounded good.

There’s a free range chicken with aioli for anyone who doesn’t want beef – I once knew a restaurant critic who went to a fish restaurant, ordered chicken and complained it wasn’t good – but really what kind of an eejit does that?

My rump was excellently cooked, I can’t say I’m wholly converted from my favourite cut of rib eye but you can’t argue with the value of this fine trencher of food; the truffle-flavoured condiment is strong so get the chimi churri if you like things lighter.

As you’d imagine there’s a good spread of brew and well versed staff to help you pair them with dishes.

I have to confess we stuck to red wine for the meat course, but switched to a rich, chewy stout called Broken Dreams with our dessert of brownie, cream, salted caramel and chocolate and porter glaze.

At 6.8percent it was appropriately served in small glasses – a little went a long way – but it was revelatory. Offsetting a sweet creamy pud with a tang of iron-edged bitterness is a vast improvement on a ‘stickie’ dessert wine in my book.

There’s a House beef brew to try, a pils, or Camden Town’s Hells lager. My one regret was not trying the fabulously titled Breaktown Neck Oil, oh well next time maybe.

Beef&Brew was doing a brisk trade on the Thursday we went in, full of thirtysomething Londoners grateful to have a joint of this quality on their doorstep where they could share a hearty meal with old friends.

Bridget Galton

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