Beard to Tail is a steak, ribs and bourbon restaurant that has a US steak house feel with a British twist. When it first opened it literally used all meat from the animal (hence beard to tail) but had diluted this to cater to the hip yet slightly less carnivorous people of Shoreditch. Beard to Tail is the literal translation of the French phrase that gives us the word barbecue.
This restaurant is located on a side street in between Old Street and Shoreditch. Protruding subtly is a royal blue canvas roof sheltering the tables at the front. The glass shutters facing the road are open in the summer making the fairly small restaurant look larger and lighter. There is a bold blackboard that encourages passersby to try the whisky, bourbon and ribs. The restaurant has a small dining area at the front and larger restaurant at the back which is separated by the bar which is stocked with an enticing selection of whiskeys, spirits and wines.
We had decided to come for the pre-theatre menu which although limited has a nice selection of meat dishes and a vegetarian dish (not sure why you would come here if a veggie but still.) The pre theatre offers two dishes and a glass of wine for £16.50 – a bargain you must agree.
We were welcomed by the happy bar man who casually shouted to the receptionist to seat us. We liked the casualness of this and we were pleasantly greeted and seated at the main restaurant area. The front of the restaurant has a white tiled bar and floor, the walls at the back are open brick work with quirky east London art surrounding this. The restaurant is rectangular and the kitchen is open at the end of the room. It is impossible to miss and the team clearly wanted to draw the diner’s eye to the open stark kitchen, so that it is a part of the whole dining experience. On the kitchen counter is a large porcelain pig with the words ‘Beard to Tail’ written on it. Very East London, very cool.
We were seated at a simple wooden table and were given the full menu and the pre theatre menu – note that you have to ask for the pre-theatre menu – which is a little pet peeve of mine. We ordered two glasses of red to go with our main course (as this was included in the pre-theater option) and a cocktail to start. We ordered the Beard to Tail Julep and the Rye Smile – all of the cocktails are bourbon, whisky fuelled in keeping with the theme. Delicious and a change from my usual liquor choice. Nice.
We ordered the fried baby squid with almonds and crispy curry leaves as well as the steak tartare for starter and the butchers cut steak with celeriac and horseradish slaw for main course. The starters came out quickly and were really well presented. Rustic but well thought out. The squid came out in a grease proof paper cone and the steak tartare was served with rye bread and the obligatory yolk in the centre. The squid was delicious, spicy and with a hit of warming curry at the end. They were well cooked and not too greasy. The tartare was thickly chopped and full of herbs and spices such as pepper, tobacco and parsley.
The portions were generous and so were happy for the few minutes between starter and main course. The steak came out on a wrought iron plate shaped as a cow. The slaw was served on this dish too. Again simple, rustic but well presented. The steak came out as we asked rare and a rare – medium rare and it literally melted in our mouths. The slaw was creamy and rich; I would have liked a bit more spice from the slaw to cut up the richness but still I ate every last bit.
Throughout the meal the waiter was cheerful and very friendly. I am not one who likes a talkative waiter but this gentleman was funny and only interrupted us when needed. There is a casualness in the atmosphere, food and service that should not be assumed to be pure casualness. Huge thought has gone into making this restaurant look and feel relaxed, rustic and friendly. A typical East London restaurant with none of the pretense.
Food Atmosphere Service