Having spent several years working just a two minute walk from Beagle I can’t help but wish it had arrived sooner or rather that we’d stayed put nearby a little longer. Beagle comprises of three railway arches in total, each offering a totally different experience to the other. The first operates as a tiny coffee shop serving excellent coffee via Hackney roasters Workshop Coffee. The location is perfect as well for those who find themselves somewhere between Shoreditch High Street and Hackney Road without a good coffee in hand. Sat next to Hoxton Overground Station, no café nearby really comes close on the coffee front whilst they also serve one of the gooiest, purposefully under baked chocolate brownies around which I’ve sampled on numerous occasions, always with the intent of sharing but never quite managing to do so. The other two arches that Beagle occupies host a cocktail bar with a modern inventive menu followed by a restaurant serving up refined British fare. Pared back and minimal in their design, both cocktail bar and restaurant are very much designed to be a perfect fit for the East London landscape. Despite the dining room feeling quite a serious and adult space you can expect the (heated) outdoor area to be packed out most nights reminding you that you can throw caution to the wind and order that second bottle of wine, you won’t be the only one. Catch it on a sunny night and you’d be lucky to grab a seat. It’s definitely the nicest spot near to Kingsland road.
We arrived for dinner but I suspect Beagle makes an excellent brunch spot with it’s full on bloody mary menu. We got stuck in to these upon arrival at about 8pm and enjoyed them so much we felt it counted as a starter. They’re big, fresh and seriously tasty. Try their ‘Classic’, which includes their very own Chorizo infused vodka and spice mix, the ‘Racy Mary’ with jalapeños and harissa, the ‘Snapper’ which swaps vodka for gin alongside fish and oyster sauce and then finally the ‘Maria Maria’ which champions a smoked tequila and habanero. I promise you won’t want to stop at one and I’m pretty sure they count as one of your 5 a day! The cocktail list is enticing enough to easily get you carried away so my advice is to pre book your spot in the restaurant and enjoy table service (you avoid the queue at the bar this way too). The Beagle Martini is a great play on the classic where vodka, gin, caraway and coriander bitters make for the perfectly balanced martini, a go to and welcomed alternative for me on any cocktail list.
On the food front expect simplistic, seasonal dishes with a little twist on the expected. Lindisfarne rocks served with an elderflower vinegar which made for an interesting combination which I was keen to try. Tom Ryalls heads up the kitchen bringing with him a very much tried and tested formula. Dishes are humble and on trend with chicory, spelt, cauliflower and blood orange all making an appearance. The braised chicory, hazelnuts and Berkswell kept The Vegetarian quiet offering a strong combination of textures and flavours. It’s sharp, tangy tones alongside the mildness of the cheese meant it certainly couldn’t be faulted. His main issue was with me gingerly revisiting his plate while I simultaneously got stuck into a huge bowl of Mussels, Cider and Bacon. Huge fresh plump mussels were cooked to perfection in a tasty sweet and salty broth.
Spelt, Broad Beans, Ricotta and Mint were the sole vegetarian main which made me a little sad compared to the riches on offer to me (he’s perfectly fine about it and after thirteen years is used to it but it does happen regularly!) Dining out with only one option is probably one of my biggest fears but luckily for The Vegetarian it prevailed, although I can’t help but think £15.60 is on the pricey side for dressed up grains.
I on the other hand went for the Brill, Cauliflower and Blood Orange which again proved successful with it’s contrasting flavours and textures. This dish was light and creamy with the brill cooked to perfection. The real dish to write home about comes in the form of a side dish of generous and sizable chips made from many thin layers of potato, which are both soft and crispy in equal measures. I can only describe it as a fried potato dauphinoise and I’m itching to know their recipe. They were insanely good.
Beagle pretty much caters for your every need in one way or another. Whether it’s an early morning espresso, night on the cocktails or a refined dining experience you want, you can pretty much fulfill all your wishes there. Set back from Kingsland Road, the café-bar-restaurant offers an oasis of calm amongst the hustle and bustle of Kingsland Road and it is well worth the visit.