BEARD TO TAIL
77 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3BS
Tel: 020 7729 2966
Cost for two people with wine: £100
I’m ONE of of those awful meat eaters that should really be a vegetarian but in actual fact, loves poor-quality canned meat and a post-pub kebab too much to ever give up eating flesh. I find meat, in its most obvious form, quite repugnant, so will only settle for a dish where the meat is half-hidden and can easily be forgotten (think bolognese or a lasagne).
Visiting EC2’s shiny new meat-focused restaurant, Beard to Tail, then, took some guts. The sell-out pop-up has finally put its feet down permanently on Curtain Road, owed, in part, to the recent trend of one-ingredient restaurants being the capital’s destination du jour. Dreamed up by the luminaries behind Callooh Callay (the quintessential Shoreditch cocktail bar that serves drinks in gramophones), Beard to Tail leaves you in no doubt that its focus is purely carnivorous. Even the décor manages to sit comfortably somewhere between industrial minimalism and a poshed-up shed.
Beard to Tail serves, in various guises, meat from the beard to the tail of an animal (not the actual beard, it should be pointed out, although one colleague assumed that it would taste a bit like a hairy pork scratching). It’s the type of place where you meet the pig and read its entire medical history.
The meat on the menu, hailing from Sutton Bank on the North Yorkshire Moors, is divided crudely into “pig” and “cow”, allowing diners to point monosyllabically at options on the menu before slumping back into their seats.
Starters range from bourbon BBQ ribs and stuffed pig trotters, to mussels and black pudding salad. We plumped for the steak tartar, which, as a dish, never ceases to amaze me just how impressive a plate of raw mince can be. The elegant Beard to Tail tartar, minced with Kentucky rye, whiskey, pepper and four cornichons, didn’t disappoint.
Assured that the pork was the star of the show – “the burgers are good, but why would you come here for a burger,” smiled the waitress, eyeing up a pair of mugs willing to spend £30 on a main course – we went for the roast pork “rumpy pumpy,” worth ordering just for the name alone; that, and because shared food is apparently “on trend” too.
A mere half an hour later, the rumpy pumpy arrives. The size of a small piglet, it was all fat, tender slabs of pork smothered in crackling and with a pleasingly fatty rind. It was clichéd melt-in-the-mouth-type stuff. More compellingly, the sheer size of the rumpy pumpy meant both myself and my friend took home a slab each, which my scavenging boyfriend ate on its own for breakfast the next day.
Unable to think for ourselves, my companion and I shared a dessert – a gargantuan sundae made of a sickening mix of cream, marshmallow, ice cream and Jack Daniel’s – served up in the whiskey bottle’s carcass. “That cream…was like fluff,” is as much as my companion could utter, dreamily swiping at the last glob of ice cream dripping from the bottle.
Meat sweats are inevitable at this place but are totally worth it and easily washed down with a whiskey cocktail.
Holla at you meat lovers and get down there before the entire Shoreditch trend-brigade arrive. You won’t be disappointed.