Editor’s Note: This event was held at The Beagle, Hoxton [397-400 Geffrye Street] – but as we understand it, like many other such food experiences, Quintessentially’s Supper Club tends to move from place to place and has no specific home location. So this isn’t a ‘regular’ Beagle event. Anyway, on with the writeup…
Jason: I write this review in thanks to Jack Oughton for inviting me as his +1 ^-^
Now I am not one to turn down food. I am known for scavenging for peoples leftovers, whether I know them or not – true story. Let this justify my love for all things edible. It’s a reputation like this that lands me an opportunity for a 4 course meal in London central of the highest grade.
The Beagle’s menu has been described as ‘British’, now stick the word ‘enhanced’ before it and I think you get a better picture. All the dishes consist of fairly well known ingredients, however the combinations and varieties blend in a way that make each dish far more exciting on the tongue – at an average £90 per head however.
The first thing I noticed were the two big open converted railway arches shielded with glass windows, that is basically the whole restaurant! The main interior is viewable from outside. Outside is a cosey little outdoor seated area closed off within green hedges, the whole place looked very welcoming.
Cocktails & Appetisers
Upon entering I was greeted with a variety of cocktails from a nice blonde waitress; Quintessential Martini was a bit harsh for my liking, the other 3 were fruity and refreshing, and quite effective. For the record, I was recovering from rather a violent flu, meaning my taste buds and already appalling tolerance for alcohol were somewhat weakened. We stood, ate, drank and weaved amongst rich folk stalking out the next waitress with a tray of cocktails, eventually getting on the appetisers, and inevitably getting quite drunk.
Buttermilk fried rabbit
Honestly, this was actually one of the tastiest things I ate all evening. It was quite a straightforward thing but serious business in my mouth. If you like chicken with breadcrumbs, you need to try these, it’s just that simple. The texture of Rabbit is far more superior.
Goat’s curd, roast peppers & capers on toast
Nothing I found too exciting nor would pay for, bite-sized for your convenience and was exactly what it says on the tin, if you like that kind of thing then go for it.
Devilled crab and little gem lettuce
A spoonful on a foldable mini leaf. Watery crunch with a fishy paste, again, not something I’d buy as I like a bit more to chew on.
Once the appetisers and cocktails were all done we were shown to our seats my eyes were on the menu first thing – standard. We were sat right next to the live act, a percussionist with the look and the skill.
As a drummer myself I appreciated this, but I can imagine the other sitting next to us would have preferred not have needed to shout during conversation! Now, before I go on I am going to clock the time we waited between each setting, because I felt this was truly a bit of a let down, given the size of each portion and my invincible appetite. I am one to challenge when it comes to portion sizes and waiting times. Just sayin’!
So 15 mins in, first starter is here…
Pig’s head croquettes & smoked cod’s roe
Please do not be fooled into thinking that you’re about to receive a whole pig’s head, like I did! I found that the croquettes tasted like what I’d imagine a mackerel fishcake to be like, I felt slightly deceived though they were tasty enough to not be dissatisfied. The breadcrumbs were crispy but the soft flesh in the middle made each bite a delight. Chuck an ample dab of cod’s roe for some tang and this makes up quite a nice little dish.
20 mins later…
Wild seabass ceviche & fennel salad
Another little favourite delicacy of mine from the evening, sushi texture, combined with crunch from the cabbage and greens. Salty and fresh flavoured. At first glance it just looked like a pile of cabbage, due to the similar pigment in the fish, but at first bite I was amazed – loved this stuff.
Another 20 mins later (and starting to get frustrated)…
Grilled courgettes, Buffalo mozzarella & toasted cobnuts
I do have a soft spot for mozzarella I must say, the greens were oily and flavoursome and the nuts offered the odd little soft crunch to each bite, combined with the cheesy fluff of the mozzarella made this a very tasty nibble.
Since the final starter we had been waiting over half an hour, I was starting to get grumpy. The fact that my eyes read SIRLOIN on the menu didn’t help matters either…!!
Aged Shorthorn sirloin & warm anchovy butter, wild mushroom, Jerusalem artichoke & watercress salad celeriac mash
Ok so steak is my favourite thing to pass my mouth in the whole world, so needless to say I enjoyed this. Admittedly, unless you’re going to present me with an entire cooked body of cow, no cut off will ever be sized to satisfaction, the thicker the cut the better. But the slices were far too thin for the price they cost, IMHO. Otherwise, this was delicious. The salad to go with it was modest, nothing spectacular, other than the mash which was also incredible. I’m not really a massive fan of mash, but celeriac is something else, kind of a mixture between white and sweet potato.
At this point we looked around the other eaters, frowning at the fellow diners who left an unreasonable amount of meat on their plates, I digress (though anything left on a plate is unreasonable in my book!). Sadly this was not the time or place to be stealing strangers’ leftovers, but my attention was quickly drawn to the fact that the seating was far too cramped – my buddy Jack’s pate smashed right between his legs due to no space on the table [Ed: And one too many cocktails] . He caught his steak between the knees, the most important part, nevertheless this shouldn’t have happened. At least we found it kind of hilarious, no steaks were harmed in the making of this plate smashing.
Once everyone had seemed to have finished their meals we started looking at our watches and kind of looking forward to leaving. A headache from the cocktails started to kick in, we weren’t full but satisfied–Bro, do you even buffet??
Old ford & tunworth
Old English(?) for biscuits and cheese.
Ginger loaf & butterscotch sauce, milk ice cream
A slice of treacle sponge (more sponge than treacle) and just slightly less than enough ice cream
Both were nothing exciting to me, but then British desserts don’t really have a rep. for being legendary, do they?
As far as the food goes, it’s worth the money it would regularly cost, but I would not have paid £90 for that kind of slow service. Overall however, the whole evening was very nice. Great atmosphere, quality of food, it’s just the long pauses between each meal that felt far too long. Oh by the way, there was a DJ and a percussionist, both of which seemed to fall on deaf ears for the most part due to no applause or dancing going on, (though two women and a gentlemen entered and quickly whisked away the percussionist from the premises. I couldn’t actually tell whether they knew him or not, nevertheless he returned about half an hour later – lol-groupies??)
Now travelling back to Croydon on a Sunday night is not so direct after a certain time. So once the final dessert arrived, it was pretty much chugged, then we made a dash for the earliest route home.
All in all the long waits were easily outweighed by the overall enjoyment of the evening and fantastic food, you can’t go wrong with fine dining with your favourite eating buddy.
L: Various places, London
P: 0845 299 4555
Additional Photography Credits: Bror Ivefeldt