Craft beers, cosy spots and epic portions of food, the Brewhouse and Kitchen in Islington are pouring their hearts out to make an impact on the senses. Do they succeed?…
Pub food, international touches
In a Word:
Quite a popular spot for locals and workers. Lots of couples and groups of friends here. There’s a few small gatherings of workmates too.
Nestled in the corner of Torrens Street, in the the ever-busy Angel and Islington, the Brewhouse and Kitchen are hard at it creating their beers and tempting tastebuds with their extensive menus. Just to be clear, I’m talking about the Brewhouse and Kitchen that’s a two-minute walk from Angel tube station, not the one the near Highbury and Islington station. (The two are often confused, as Jack found out…I’ll say no more!) Tasting Britain is already familiar with the Brewhouse and Kitchen, but how do they fare this time around?
The first thing to notice is how spacious it is. You can easily twirl around like a ballerina in the bar – or in the dining area for that matter. There a couple of cosy sofas in the corner near to our table and there’s a fair amount of outdoor seating – perfect for the warmer months. The interior is slightly understated, there’s lots of wood everywhere, from the furnishing, to the floors and walls. There’s also an exposed ceiling which gives the venue that popular industrial-esque appearance.
The atmosphere is relaxed and cosy but is lively, which is no surprise giving it’s location. The vibe you get is very much country pub-meets-city-life and it works for this part of London.
Their drinks menu is something to behold. For a microbrewery, it has an incredible selection of craft beers, ales, IPA and stout. There’s even a cocktail list.
The food menu is impressive too. As well as catering for meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans, they also have a variety of dishes inspired by different parts of the world. There’s traditional fish and chips, Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry and Vietnamese salad. I can’t wait to get stuck in!
To start, I order the Mac & Cheese Melts with Chilli Jam and Jack goes for the Cajun King Prawn & Lemon Sour Cream Soft Shell Tacos. The service is pretty quick and we tuck in to our well presented dishes.
The mac and cheese melts have a crunchy, breadcrumb coating which goes amazingly well with the chilli jam. It gives it satisfying, gentle sweet taste with just a hint of heat. The macaroni is well cooked, although I would have liked it to be a bit more cheesy. Overall, it’s flavoursome comfort food.
The tacos is loaded with lots of interesting flavours and looks bright and colourful. The prawns are tender are marinated with a touch of cajun spices. The lemon sour cream cools the tacos and compliments the prawns. We wouldn’t say it was a particularly mind-blowing dish, but it does whet your appetite for more.
Of course, craft beers are their thing and we’re invited to sample a selection. I was never a beer fan, but admittedly, having tried a small number over the past year with Tasting Britain, I’m slowly warming up to it. There are a couple in this selection that I wouldn’t mind trying again. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch the names of these, but I find that the American brown ale (which is the one furthest right in the picture) is strangely satisfying.
My favourite, however is the one furthest left in the picture. It has a lovely musky-orange colour and has a mild cherry taste. Interestingly, no cherries were put in it. I hope they keep this one.
Sadly, our original choices of Pan Seared Red Snapper Fillet and Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry aren’t available today, so we choose on the spot…
I go for something traditional and order the IPA Battered Cod & Chips. My eyes practically pop out when I see the plate – it is huge! It’s definitely one of the biggest plates of fish and chips I’ve ever seen. I have to say though, the cod is superb. The fish is tender and flakey and the batter is perfectly golden and crisp. The chips are crispy too and chunky and the mushy peas compliment it beautifully. Be warned, it’s very filling!
Jack has the Beetroot & Thyme Risotto with poached egg. It has a lovely deep-purple colour and is loaded with salad leaves. There are some interesting flavours and textures here. This dish is also vegan, just don’t add the egg.
Jack and I have underestimated the size of our mains, but we’re fighting for room to eat these beautiful sides. The Vietnamese Salad and a tray of Sweet Potato Fries…
The Vietnamese Salad is a sensory delight, impressing the eyes as well as the palate. There’s lots of colour here, lots of crunch and of course, lots of varied flavours. The peanuts and toasted sesame seeds accompany the coconut and coriander rice perfectly and the soy and garlic dressing lifted red cabbage and carrot. You could easily eat this on its own.
These Sweet Potato Fries are simply perfect. Crispy on the outside, firm on the inside and have an eye-catching, deep orange colour. An absolute treat.
Despite eating the biggest fish I’ve seen, I feel I can’t skip dessert – I need something sweet and I know the perfect dessert – Eton Mess. I almost regret it when I see the size of it. IT. IS. HUGE! Still, I tuck in.
This Eton Mess breaks from tradition by using raspberries rather than strawberries, which in my opinion, makes it more manageable. Raspberries tend to have a more sour base, so when the sorbet meets with the meringue, there’s a good balance of sweet and sour on the palate. The meringue is perfect, crispy on the outside and slightly fluffy on the inside. Yes, I practically scoffed it all…
Jack goes for a Fresh Mint Tea to round off the meal as there’s no decaffeinated coffee. The venue is not trying to annoy people, there just isn’t demand for it here, so they don’t sell it here. I think the tea is a better option, if only for the presentation. The tea comes in a delightful ceramic pot with an Oriental-inspired pattern and is served with four smarties. Sweet!
Overall, it’s an impressive venue. Lots of interesting dishes, homemade brews, friendly staff and a lively atmosphere. It’s the ideal place to take your friends and chill out. It does get pretty noisy, but again, it’s due to the location. However, be sure to arrive with an empty stomach. Some of their plates are seriously big!
Torrens St, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 1NQ