After a quick drink in Cottons Rum Shack, followed by an even quicker, forced conversation with Henry Holland outside his ice-cream van, we arrived at Beagle – the restaurant I’ve wanted to go to for months, partly because of reviews, partly because I like anything associated with dogs.
Located just off Kingsland Road, Beagle is unsurprisingly filled with local hipsters and ‘creative’ types. The striking interior makes the most out of being an old railway tunnel, made up of exposed brick walls, wooden furniture and a view through to the kitchen. Outside there are a few ‘unbookable’ tables, allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Our smiley waitress took us through the mouth-watering menu, pointing out two dishes already sold out. This felt like a lot, but as it happened, neither dish would have made our order anyway.
The ‘special’ Chargrilled Squid was also in short supply, so we quickly ordered one as a starter. To accompany this, we went for Meinda & Pink Ox Heart Tomatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella & Basil (£7.50). The generous portion of squid had a lovely smokey finish, with each piece as tender as the last. Accompanying it was a mustardy sauce that we ate with relish.
By contrast, the colourful salad was a little disappointing. With such a fancy name, the tomatoes didn’t sing like I expected. Nevertheless, the basil dressing was so deliciously garlicky, we insisted on more bread to mop the plate.
For main, we went for Chargrilled Herdwick Lamb, Bobby Beans & Anchovy (£19.00) and Whole Lemon Sole, Kolhrabi, Radish & Chervil (£18.00). That, and sides of Duck Fat Chips (£4.50) and Grilled Sweetcorn (£3.50).
The lamb was lovely and rare, but again, lacked the depth of flavour we’d hoped for (surprising, given the addition of anchovy). As for the Sole, the buttery, white meat melted in the mouth, brought to life by the crisp Kolhrabi salad – a vegetable I hadn’t eaten since my lunch at Dabbous.
Grilled sweetcorn required no butter – always a good sign – but the chunky chips didn’t quite deliver on taste. Each crisp, golden finger was as good as any well-made chip, but lacked the meaty aroma expected from the duck fat.
We shared Gooseberry Fool & Ginger Snap for dessert, which was creamy, light and filled with large chunks of fruit. It was even better spread on a ginger snap biscuit – a great end to the meal.
If I’m in the neighbourhood, I’ll probably go back to Beagle to chance a table outside. The atmosphere was great, the interior felt special and some of the dishes were fantastic. So, I will give this much hyped restaurant a LLE Rating of 7/10.
Beagle, 397-400 Geffrye Street, E2 8HZ