It Does Exactly What It Says On The Tin | Beef & Brew, 323 Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2TJ
Oh look, there’s another new London restaurant with a name that’s two random words paired together, yawn. Well, at least these aren’t not totally random, you know what you’re gonna get there. We nearly dismissed this one until we spent the time looking into what it’s all about, checking out the menu and reading some way above average reviews. Plus the head chef Jessica Simmons has good credentials, she previously worked with Angela Hartnett at Murano.
Beef & Brew explain what they’re all about: ‘It’s a dining experience everyone can enjoy, nothing too elitist.’ Sounds good to us. Apart from the fab and ever-expanding Flat Iron, there isn’t really any casual places that you can swing by for a reasonably priced steak dinner.
It’s just up the road from Joe’s Southern Kitchen in the rejuvenated Kentish Town, not far from where I used to live back when I was young, free and semi-single. Four years living alone in Tufnell Park was bliss – Friday night deliveries from the Thai Cafe on Fortess Road (I hope to God this hasn’t closed down), Sunday lunches at St John’s Tavern on Junction Road, beers at the Junction Tavern… Kentish Town was certainly not somewhere I’d head for dinner back then, it was just for passing through to get to the other side. Why do good things happen to places after I’ve moved on?
Anyway, Beef & Brew is a casual no-frills, paired back kind of place, so much so that I actually walked past it on the way there. The kind of restaurant where you could happily dine alone without feeling like a freak, especially with the window-facing stools.
Staff are friendly and helpful, especially with menu choices. The cocktail menu doesn’t really tell you much so the waitress let my friend and I her know her favourites, pointing us towards the more ‘manly’ drinks, a girl after my own heart. The Picon bierre (£4) is a French classic of an orange bitter liquor (the Picon part) blended with pils, simple yet refined. My friend had the Michelada (£4) – tomato juice, hot sauce, lime and lager, like an easier to drink Bloody Mary.
A short menu on one side of paper that’s non-taxing, just what you need when you’re trying to catch up with a friend, or if you brain is swamped with life like mine was. We kicked off with a couple of small plates to share – I was ecstatic to find the sweet Brisket jam nuggets (£4.50) were cheese-free, 99.9% of the time creations like these are oozing with the stuff, my heartfelt thanks to you for this, Beef & Brew. The Smoked pigs cheek on toast (£5) was the star of the show – a wonderful mix of smoky and sweet, with another bonus for me – the sauce drizzled on it resembled cheese but was in fact aioli.
My friend went for the same thing that I had my eye on – the Chateau steak (£15) alongside some super crunchy Chips (£3). Considering she’s psychic she really should have known that’s what I wanted. I was offered a slice of the meat which only increased my jealousy, it was perfectly pink and nicely charred, very good indeed. Although my French dip with beef cheek (£9) was enjoyable (and messy), I felt like I was cheating on Hawksmoor. I’m sure the addition of the beer cheese which I asked to be omitted would have given it more flavour. Loved the little vomiting cow jug though, cute.
For dessert we decided to have a Brewer’s mess (£4.50) each – brownie, salted caramel and chocolate sauce. The other option of a Malt ice cream affogato (£3.50) hugely appealed but I needed chocolate and a lot of it. Along came a little glass of dessert, but size isn’t everything, it was packed with the aforementioned plus a generous dollop of cream on top. The brownies chunks so big, our only option was to shovel the whole lot in our mouths as there was no way to break them up, not a pretty sight for anyone glancing over at that point.
The waitress (and menu) recommends pairing the Brewers Mess with a bottle of Siren Broken Dreams stout (£6) – with a name like that we both just had to take her up on it. Unfortunately the bottle read ‘Broken Dream’ without the ‘s’ which bothered me far more than it bothered my part-time sub-editor friend. It was a great match though, the beer was smoky, chocolatey with a whiff of coffee, it’s a breakfast stout apparently, who drinks this at breakfast? At 6% I wouldn’t be capable of leaving the house, perhaps I should try it…
So Beef & Brew, you’ve well and truly won me over, I kind of knew you would – good value, simple, unpretentious and above all, tasty. I’d come back for more.
323 Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2TJ
Opening times: Monday: 6pm – 10pm
Tuesday to Thursday: 12pm – 3pm & 6pm – 10pm
Friday: 12pm – 3pm & 6pm – 11pm
Saturday: 12pm – 11pm
Sunday: 12pm – 10pm
Book a table online
Nearest station: Kentish Town (2 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Beef & Brew, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.