Beef and Birds (American) – Brick Lane, East LondonAdvertisement
Brick Lane is a cornucopia of restaurants and takeaways, with its long-standing curry houses slowly giving ground to a number of hip eateries that include your new age vegan joints.
Amongst these new restaurants are two Halal gourmet burger venues, one more well known perhaps than the other, but both within barely a minutes walk of each other.
With their menu initially being designed by then National Burger Awards winner Christian Stoner, before being tweaked and enhanced over time, we’ve kept a close eye on them and noticed consistent praise from reviewers and food bloggers across the spectrum.
The restaurant’s rustic outlook makes good use of graffiti art to help create a trendy, chilled-out vibe, with plenty of comfortable seating for around 60 diners, and even a trio of old fireplaces used as decorative sets for the counter at the back.
More importantly, Beef and Birds, whose menu consists of a variety of meat-dominated dishes that include some unique-sounding burgers, is fully Halal.
Of the two mocktails, if Nirvana can be classed as one, the Virgin Mojita was our pick, and one that was almost there in terms of balance. Erring as it did on the sweet side, all this needed was more of the lime and mint to come through.
As for the Nirvana, then with all that crushed ice, this was more a slushie than anything else. And though the hint of fresh strawberry was certainly there, so was the taste of strawberry syrup, which dominated proceedings. And though one Lion did claim to have picked up on the apparent coconut therein, it didn’t come through anywhere near as distinctly as it needed to.
The Choc Milkshake was a thick and luscious affair, with a frothy consistency that was spot on, and with a hint of the dark chocolate lingering in the background. Delicious!
This is a flavour-profile none of us had ever encountered before and one we won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
In fact, the assortment of goodies in their Intro section had us standing to attention immediately, especially when informed that items like their Cajun Mac and Cheese Balls, Chilli Cheese Nuggets, Southern Fried Chicken Bites, and Korean Fried Cauliflowers (KFC as it’s cleverly been dubbed), are all inhouse made.
How many such restaurants go the extra mile in committing to such an endeavour? We were bowled over even if you aren’t!
Of all the starters had, it was the Mac ‘n’ Cheese that stole the show. Absolutely delightful little freshly-made balls of goodness.
With a crispy exterior, the inside was filled with a creamy cheese filling that was perfectly seasoned. Honestly; we could have had a dozen of these.
We knew going in that Beef and Birds’ Dark Chocolate BBQ wings were extremely popular.
And they deserved to be too, because this unique flavour profile didn’t just produce, what can only be described as, an exceptionally good liquorice taste, but achieved a sumptuous sticky glaze that made these some addictively good wings.
As well cooked and as well marinated as these wings were, they didn’t quite deliver on that spicy-cum-herbaceous Korean flavour we were expecting. Decent without being anything exceptional.
Generously based wings that turned out beautifully moist on the inside, with a sticky glaze on the out, and plenty of sweet and smokey depth one would expect of BBQ.
These freshly-made Korean Fried Cauliflowers (KFC), though a tad oily, were semi-crisp on the outside, but soft and squidgy on the in. And though lightly spiced and quite tasty in their own right, we didn’t quite pick up on the Korean spices.
What made this such a memorable one, was the peppercorn and mustard sauce, which, in combination with the soft segments of mushrooms therein, had been adequately reduced to help intensify its earthy depth and spicy richness.
Generously poured over the top of a beautifully minced and seasoned patty, which was nicely charred on the outside while being sufficiently chewy on the in, this dirty little burger grabbed our attention and held it to the very last creamy bite. A triumph in every respect and one of the best burgers we’ve had in yonky years.
Usually when we see the word ‘brisket’ in the name of any burger, we immediately assume, through experience, either pulled or slices of the beef to be included therein. In this case, however, the brisket in this Texas Brisket Chilli Burger was included entirely minced in the form of a chilli con carne.
Moving past such technicalities, however, we found the burger to be wanting. All three of us simply couldn’t look past the fact that not only had the chilli con carne been over-seasoned, and by quite some margin we might add, but also found the top of the patty to have been over-charred.
As such, this was the weakest of the burgers had, and by quite a distance too. A pity really, since given its smart and uniform presentation, we did find this initially to be an appetising one.RECOMMENDED
With a golden chicken fillet that large and alluring, and topped with a creamy purple cabbage slaw, we were slain even before taking guard.
This is arguably one of the best chicken burgers we’ve had in quite some time, made possible, firstly and foremost, by the cooking of the poultry.
Kudos to the chef for taking such a huge chunk and managing to lock in those delicious juices, before presenting something so utterly tender, and topping it with a light and tangy, crunchy slaw, and some garlic butter to expertly counter the mild heat of the hot sauce.
The braised short rib was slow cooked enough to ensure that the beef, though a touch dry in places, was, on the whole, tender enough to come apart with relative ease.
More impressively, not only was it covered in a rich and viscous BBQ sauce with a gorgeous sheen, but paired with such a large portion of crispy-skinned potatoes, as well as crunchy red cabbage slaw and some fancy salad, you might be tempted to ask for more of that addictively good gravy.
On a final word, however, although we’ve already worked out that it’s all about the flavours with Beef and Birds, we would still question their choice of presentation, based on how imaginative they otherwise are with their menu. Surely they can do better than what would be found at one’s local cafe!
As with the aforementioned chicken burger, this half grilled chicken was expertly judged, turning out so soft, juicy and tender. It was paired with a portion of spiced rice and the same slaw and salad that accompanied the Short Rib above.
Of the five flavours on offer, we were recommened the Spicy Naga. Now, right off the bat, this is a serious sauce, with a serious level of spice; and one which slowly builds into a crescendo. And though we found it to be quite flavourous, with a subtle sour undertone, it certainly was an intense one, so be sure to have plenty of fluid to hand.
Our only criticism was with the thicker-than-normal grained rice, whose toughness betrayed its reheated quality.
Oh boy, was this Truffle Mac and Cheese ever a good one!
Cheese-truffle heaven in a plate really, where the crispy-cum-gooey, piquant cheese and soft macaroni were deeply infused with the unmistakable earthy essence of the truffle. Perhaps the best Mac and Cheese we’ve ever had!
If you’re looking for something offbeat, then Beef and Birds Poutine is the side dish to try. Essentially, it’s made up of skin-on fries, topped with cheese, that’s all floating atop a pool of gravy.
Did it work? Well one Lion called it: “The best dirty fries I’ve had. Very unique!” And though another Lion initially found the concept quite out there, he quickly found himself being won over with every given bite. The secret behind its success, was the warm gravy itself – inhouse made, rich and full of flavour – which, when had with the crispy fries and cheese curd, brought the entire thing together. In the end, we were all enjoying its soothing quality.
The pairing of chilli and sweet maple syrup are a tried and tested combination. In this case, the chilli flakes and sweet maple glaze covering these potatoes made for an extremely enjoyable bowl of Chilli and Maple Home Potatoes.
Each and every sauce here is worth a mention, since Beef and Birds, as with almost everything on their menu, don’t do things half-baked. These are all homemade!
The best of the half-dozen was, we all agreed, the liquorice flavoured BBQ chocolate, followed close behind by the fragrant and whispy Truffle Aioli.
The Korean split the crowd, with one Lion deeming its weird flavour good enough to be his second best, but the other two disagreeing.
The remaining three were good in their own right, with the BBQ erring more on the liquorice side than the smoky.
- NO/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- JUST EAT
Beef and Birds appear not to cut any corners either, with practically everything, including their fantastic sauces, inhouse made. It's obvious that their focus is on delivering flavour. Now, whether that's at the expense of presentation, which can count for a lot in today's Instagrammable age, and perhaps a factor into why they're not mentioned in the same breath as their competitors, is open to question.
What isn't open to debate, we believe, is their commitment towards trying to think outside the box, and looking to present dishes many others don't.
If you haven't been, and you enjoy proper gourmet burgers, and some wholesome, flavourous dishes, then Beef and Birds is the place to hit up.
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