Sometimes I wonder whether the restaurant scene in East London is driven by a fickle minded dining crowd chasing the frontier of hipness. Having an catchy concept seems to be what keeps many eateries alive and sadly the food often becomes second priority. In this regard Beagle has hit the right balance. While not having a tangible “concept” its style is well defined by the warm tone of the chairs and tables in dark wood within the naked brick walls of a few railway arches next to Hoxton Overground station. The well groomed and friendly staff are not too cool to care which contributes to the comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. Last and most important, the food doesn’t disappoint.
The two men behind Beagle are Dan and Kieran Clancy, also known in the party scene as krankbrother. Naturally a well curated playlist (although nothing of what they usually play) is aired in the background, something that I forgot about 5 min into the dinner. Heading the kitchen is James Ferguson from Rochelle Canteen (who apparently whips up good tart recipes). Apparently the kitchen uses a wood grill because of difficulties with gas in the property. On the compact one page menu you’ll find a small selection of British food.
Having heard a few things about the bar headed by Myles Davies (formerly of Viajante and Hix) starting the meal with a cold drink this hot day was given. I tried the Lovage (Gin, Lemon, Lovage and Tonic) which was a clean drink with a nice herby bitterness.
The salad consisted of grilled courgette, feta and toasted pine nuts was a good light start of the dinner. I especially liked the dressing and the grilled courgettes had a nice hint of smoke. Well balanced starter.
I chose to stay light and went for the plaice with sea purslane and cucumber, again a dish using the wood grill. As side I had Jersey Royals. The fish was well grilled. The meat maintained its moisture and softness. I guess this is the benefit of preparing the fish whole. As the starter the flavours of the ingredients comes out without much influence of flavouring.
The crust of the peach and almond tart was the best part of the dessert. I do have a weakness for almonds but the texture and not too sweet tart was very nice. However I think the peach was on the sour side which pulled down an otherwise excellent dessert. Despite that this was my favourite of the evening.
With the meal we had a bottle of Serge Laloue Sancerre 2011. The rest of the wine list was reasonably priced with the cheapest bottle starting at 18.50.
To sum up I think that Beagle delivers well-executed solid no fuss food in a comfortable and simple atmosphere. You won’t find any Riedel glasses or heavy-weight cutlery here, in fact one of my friends managed to bend her canteen-like fork. Nothing is concealed in the dishes and the ingredients are defining the flavours. The same goes for the drinks (at least the one I had). Beagle won’t offer excitement but it’s a place to come for a good and relaxed dinner. It’s nice to see a more mature place pop up in an area driven by trends and hipness.
For more photos from Beagle, please visit my Flickr set.
397-400 Geffrye Street
Tel. +44 (0)20 7613 2967