Thursday, 1 November 2012

Beard to Tail, Shoreditch

The 'last meaty meal' had to be an epic one. No more meat for a month? There was a sombre sense of occasion yet one of excitement at the impending meat sweats. On paper, Beard to Tail sounds pretty awesome. The menu is a meat-lover's dream, the cocktail list expertly crafted - and you'd hope so too, coming as it has done from the people behind Calloo Callay.  


The reality isn't as rosy, alas. The cavernous restaurant space is oh-so-very-Shoreditch with exposed silver extraction tunnels and brick walls galore. We were wedged into a row of awkward first-daters in two-seater tables by the kitchen. We ordered 'meaty fingers' from the snacks menu while we decided on what to eat and were taken aback when rectangles of toast arrived. I can only imagine they were fried in dripping / some sort of animal fat to give them their name, but they were not the sticks of meat I was hoping for. 


Black pudding and deep fried hen's egg salad was not a salad. It was two wedges of black pudding, surrounded by cubes of potato and topped with an (admittedly good) soft egg with a crispy coating. Three wispy micro-leaves and some fried red onions dotted about the plate. It's as if they ran out of salad leaves, or you know, vegetables and they thought 'sod it, just wang some potato bits on there'. The meat on a half rack of ribs were slow-cooked to a texture suitable for a geriatric, while the grilled corn on the cob was tough and on the dry side. The marinade on the ribs were incredibly salty (rather a theme for the meal) and the accompanying sauce incredibly sweet.


My main course of sweet-cured pork chop with cockles, apple and sage was so salty it was inedible. I struggled with a few bites but I had to abandon it for fear of my insides shrivelling up like a raisin. When the waitress came to ask how we were doing, I told her of my woes but declined the replacement offered. Pulled featherblade of beef (pictured) with a green hollandaise sauce was quite enormous, sloppy and served rather bizarrely in a huge lettuce cup on a wooden board. Grilled courgettes and green peppers made a boring vegetable element, and the aforementioned hollandaise managed to taste of pretty much nothing. Floury, doughy flatbreads were left untouched. Sides of 'Eastside slaw' was a cup of textured brine, for three and a half of your English pounds, though the battered potato scallops were pretty good. 

I was a bit surprised to see the Salt Bomb dish appear on the bill and I had to ask our waitress to remove the offending item, which after a discussion with her manager, happened. All was not lost though I suppose - the cocktails, at least, are good. At a total of £90 including two cocktails each and a shared dessert, it's not bank busting but it did leave a disappointed (and salty. Did I mention the salt? So much salt.) taste in our mouths. 

Beard to Tail


77 Curtain Road
EC2A 3BS


Tel: 020 7729 2966


Beard to Tail on Urbanspoon

23 comments:

Chris Pople said...

If I ordered something called 'meaty fingers' and what turned up was slices of FUCKING TOAST, I'd have left right there and then.

Blonde said...

Oh hell. That's quite crippling disappointment.

love2feed said...

Agreed. Went a couple weeks ago but didn't bother to post about it. So much hype, but the ribs were a little lacklustre. I prefer Pitt Cue Co!

Lady VĂ©lo said...

I'd been wondering about this place to check it out with The Boy. The toast made me laugh (sorry) - but that's not meaty fingers at all...!

Lizzie Mabbott said...

Pople - That's what we should have done. "CAB TO PITT CUE PLEASE."

Blonde - Indeed. Damnit!

Love2Feed - Wish I'd known before we went! Pitt Cue infinitely better.

Lady Velo - No no, someone should laugh :) If it were just the one dish I'd have chalked it down to a mistake, but overall... I wouldn't bother.

Food Urchin said...

'Fatty, claggy, podgy, drippy fingers' That's perhaps the name they should have gone for. But that doesn't sound as nice does it.

Tang said...

The 'meaty fingers' dish is one of those jokes that I will never get...

I am sorry to hear your last pre-vegan meal turned out to be so mehhhh :(



Incendiary Blonde said...

Toast fingers! Oh, I would not have been happy!

Lizzie Mabbott said...

Food Urchin - to be fair to them they were nice crispy...rectangles of toast. They were toast. TOAST.

Tang - I don't get it either then! I am sorry too. Boo.

Incendiary - I KNOW RIGHT! Huff.

Gingle said...

Oh my God, thank you! I also found my meal at Bear to Tail to be totally meh, and our Rumpy Pumpy ridiculously salty. It has been enraging me that everyone has been giving it good reviews, and making me worry they had upped their game since we went (on opening night). I'm relieved that actually, it probably wasn't just our bad luck, they are just not that great and everyone else is hopping on the 'loving it' bandwagon.

Did rather love their cocktails though.

Shu Han said...

sorry to hear about your disappointing final meal :(

Shu Han said...

as in before veganvember. that made it sound like a death sentence last meal thing.

Lizzie Mabbott said...

Gingle - looks like they haven't improved much since opening night then! Sorry to hear you had a meh meal too.

Shu Han - Yes, such a shame. And thank god it wasn't my last LAST meal.

Frank said...

Oh what a horrible way to say goodbye to meat. Curses

ovenreadychicken said...

The most disappointing thing about all of this is that it could and should have been avoided. I was invited to the soft opening and encouraged to fill in feedback forms to help the restaurant "get it right". Ever horrid, salty, disappointing mouthful you had to endure was exactly our experience and we let them know that (in a very "we really want you to do well the menu reads so well" kind of a way of course). But they didn't seem to care then and clearly not now. It seemed then that they believed they had already got it so right that they didn't need to listen to what the customer was saying...or learn to cook. Which rather begs the question " why give us feedback forms?" Perhaps they were being ironic, knowing that the forms would be the only thing providing a good feed that night. All round an unseemly and salty affair. It makes me sad when restaurant are bad.

Anyway, good luck going Vegan. Tough ask that. Although with meat "treats" out their courtesy of Mssrs Beard and Tail perhaps you are better off steering well clear. Good luck, Ed Chef

SteveF said...

Jay Rayner hated it too!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/nov/04/restaurant-review-beard-to-tail-jay-rayner

Gingle said...

Ovenready - Oh yes! I had forgotten about them asking for feedback. We also were very honest on the form about what we thought about the 'seasoning'. What also annoys me is that they asked people not to blog about them while they tried to perfect everything in their opening weeks. I had a long debate with myself about whether to write about them if indeed they ended up addressing all the things we didn't like. (Although I did post it in the end.)I shouldn't have bothered agonising about it - they obviously haven't changed anything!

Lizzie Mabbott said...

Frank - I KNOW RIGHT? Wah.

Ovenreadychicken - Well if they wouldn't even listen to feedback what was the point in asking for it? That kind of thing makes me very annoyed. What a waste of what could have been a good restaurant. Thanks for the good luck wishes!

Steve - yes, though John Walsh liked it!? http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/reviews/beard-to-tail-77-curtain-road-london-ec2-8269489.html

SteveF said...

Interestingly (well, sort of), Time Out gave Beard to Tail a good review.

http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/venue/2:31485/beard-to-tail

This isn't the first restaurant review in Time Out recently that has been completely divergent to everything else I've read......

Gentlemen's Luncheon Club said...

Overall the Beard to Tail is on par with, if not better than St. Johns. In my view the dishes are more interesting and they are a lot cheaper. I also preferred the ambience, as it is more relaxed. The only thing to watch out for is the service, which was patchy, although this could just be down to it being new staff in a new restaurant and will probably improve over time. I just hope they stop cutting your food up.London food blog

Lizzie Mabbott said...

Gentleman's Luncheon Club - that comment is a direct cut and paste paragraph from your own post about the restaurant. Lazy. Anyway, you must've had an unusually terrible meal at St John if you think Beard to Tail was better.

Gingle said...

He's done the same to me! Cheeky!

Helena Lee said...

Ach I totally agree with you. Got meat sweats for no reason. Very disappointing.