Beard to Tail is less restaurant and more a marriage between an American whiskey & bbq pit and an upscale tapas bar – which is pretty damn awesome. The food is beautifully presented, the cocktail list long and tempting, and the service and atmosphere friendly and relaxing. All the menu items are designed to be smaller sharing plates so it’s best to go with a mate or two. However, keep in mind that if you are looking to fill up, it’s not going to be cheap with prices per plate hitting the £6-10 range and cocktails ringing up at £8-10 as well. But if you’re looking for a place to catch up with a friend while nibbling on a few things, then B2T is the place for you.
Side note: I first went to B2T ages ago for a pulled pork slider eating contest. While I lost, I remember the pulled pork being delicious and was a bit sad to see it no longer features on the menu. Perhaps it can make a reappearance soon?
Food: ★★★☆☆ Service: ★★★★☆ Atmosphere: ★★★★☆ Value: ★★★☆☆ Overall: ★★★☆☆
The bar at B2T is of course a great place to start and have a pre-drink cocktail. There are also tables outside when the weather permits but keep in mind there is also a bus stop right there so it’s not the nicest atmosphere.
Alternatively, check out Jones Family Project down the road which recently launched a new cocktail menu with some tasty treats. The bar area there is pretty big and has comfy booths for around 6 people. There are a number of other pubs in the area such as the Old Blue Last across the road if you’re just looking for a casual pint instead.
How about the food?
I had come for the fried chicken but it turned out the supplier had gone awol with the delivery that day so sadly it wasn’t an option. Instead I went with a small selection of plates: padron peppers, baby squid with thai pepper, and the Dexter cheeseburger sliders. My dining companion wasn’t hungry (blasphemy!) and just ordered a beetroot and goat cheese/curd salad.
The padron peppers were a bit disappointing, sadly. There was a slight off taste (almost soapy) to them and they were in need of a heavier hand with the salt. I kept nibbling on them hoping it was just the first few but they were uniformly bland.
The squid on the other hand were executed perfectly and maintained a good crunchy and slightly chewy texture. I could have easily knocked off another plate or two of that, no problem. The slight bite of the thai pepper was a nice take on the usual salt’n’pepper seasoning with a bit more of a citrus note.
I’m torn on the Dexter sliders. The patty itself was tasty and juicy although grilled slightly more medium than I would have liked – although I don’t think I asked specifically for medium rare so that’s on me. Still, when using such quality beef, take the rarer approach and let it shine through. The other issue was the proportion with the bun and salad toppings being far too large in comparison to the meat. As sliders go, it was a decent one but it has the potential to be truly tasty with a bit of tinkering.
My companion’s salad was a work of art – and I’m rarely impressed by a salad. The presentation was spectactular and the different components of the dish matched nicely. In particular, I liked the lighter goat curd (mixed with cream) which gave the dish a hint of the goat cheese flavor without overpowering the more delicate elements.
Oh and for dessert we opted for the brownie with ice cream. It’s an intensely dark chocolate brownie (and a massive amount of it) with a scoop of ice cream. The brownie is good although was quite hard and would have benefitted from being warmed up a bit – it felt like it had just been pulled from the fridge. But it was tasty and more than the two of us could finish!
What about the drinks?
Given I was still a bit hungover from the poker game the night before, I stuck with just one cocktail – the Rocket Fuel. A Bulleit Rye based drink, it’s made with a Beavertown Smog Rocket beer reduction and it a dark chocolately looking cocktail. It has a powerful taste with notes of lemon and tangy orange while maintaining a texture similar to a milk stout or creamy porter. Definitely something to have with the more meaty dishes as it will overwhelm anything light.
There are a number of other cocktails I’d like to try (like their take on the espresso martini) so I’ll be reporting back soon.
Worth the dosh?
It’s expensive, no doubt about that. For four plates, dessert, and a cocktail I forked over around £50 which is a bit steep given I was still hungry. But if you’re there for the cocktails, then I reckon it’s quite reasonable and you can splurge on a dish or two.
Find Beard to Tail here