I have always been fond of East London’s railway arches,the more now that restaurants, bars and even yoga studios are now making the most of these amazing urban features. The Beagle occupies the arches underneath Hoxton Overground station, in Hackney. It is very elegant with a stylish industrial look made of bare-brick walls, cement floor, bare tables and iron candelabra – and so you never forget the station above, there’s the regular rattle of the trains. There’s also an outside pavement area with a retractable roof for sunny days (ideal for breakfast and brunch). So far, ambiance agreeable and – as I discovered the food, from head chef James Ferguson, is delicious. But the service was just this side of appalling. We ordered a bottle of white wine – there’s a good selection between £20 and £30 but you can go much higher. This failed to arrive on time (and it took a good 15 minutes trying to catch the attention of our waiter before the bottle finally appeared, without a word of apology). Ordering food or asking for more water or bread was as painful an experience. We quickly realized that our waiter was not at all interested in our table during the whole time we were there. Happily, the food is far better than the service! The menu is relatively brief; a small selection of modern British starters, mains and deserts, featuring seasonal ingredients used in sophisticated manner, with a chalkboard of daily-changing specials. Starters are mostly from £6.50 to £9, main courses from £14 to £19 with vegetables £4 or £4.50. But there is an Express lunch menu at £15 for two course and £18 for three. Let’s hope that Express diners get better waiter attention or they’ll still be eating into the evening!
My starter was a summery white peach with toasted almonds and perroche (goat milk cheese), while my companion went for Asparagus with lardo and walnuts, a seasonal classic, which was well executed. We then both decided to go for the Black faced lamb accompanied by jersey royals and broad beans as a main. The dish was well balanced and the lamb was tender, cooked to perfection and really succulent. As we were eating we could see a few plates of grilled chicken coming out of the kitchen, which looked particularly appetizing as well. Be prepared for large portions, as all the mains are generously served.
We decided to finish with the ginger loaf, served with homemade vanilla ice cream. The loaf turned out to be an absolute winner and I can’t recommend it enough! It was again a very generous portion of really sweet and rich and sticky piece of cake so sharing is almost the only option! We thoroughly enjoyed eating it but I felt so full afterwards that I could barely walk home…
Verdict: a very pleasant evening with great food in a nice and unusual decor but disappointing service.
Ginger loaf is a must (to share!).
Beagle, 397-400 Geffrye Street, London E2 8HZ
020 7613 2967
Station: Hoxton (overground)
Monday-Saturday: 12-3 pm, 6:30-10:30 pm; Sunday 11-5 pm