So I first started writing this review well over a month ago after my first visit to Beard To Tail. Which, incidentally, was a heavenly occasion. However, after perhaps one too many Crabbies/ white wines/ vodkas I have returned from a second far less successful meal and have the felt the very urgent need to splurge my experience all over the page. So, here we go, and do please excuse any typos/ general non-sensical rants. I’m drunk.
I’m going to start with my very first review, which I didn’t even get half-way through before abandoning for more pastures green. I’m writing a novel while holding down two jobs, so sue me. But here is the beautiful, elegant prose I first penned in all its glory (I just wrote flory. This is going to be so much harder than I first imagined):
“I’d heard a lot of mixed reviews about Beard To Tail before finally booking a table there last Friday. Time Out had listed their barbecue ribs as some of the best in London – another reviewer had liked the food but not the service and the obligatory 12.5% service charge.
But I had been following Beard To Tail’s Facebook photo feed quite religiously, some might even say fanatically, since my friend had first mentioned them a month or so ago, and with the lure of barbecue ribs and Jack Daniel sundaes calling me – well, we had to give it a go.
“We booked a table for Friday at 9pm. We had to wait about ten minutes to get seated but this was a minor detail. Situated on Curtain Road, the restaurant opens to a curved bar with dinner seating behind and an open kitchen – with a proud plastic pig squatting as if about to relieve itself in centre place. It smells comfortingly of barbecue meat. The ladies were even better – the best toilets I have ever been to my entire life, the smell of smoking meat filling the lavatories like the air freshener of the gods.
An impossibly perky and indistinguishably accented waitress seated us – and I kept my eyes peeled thanks to the bad service review, but she was perfect, and the ‘first day’ barman they sent over when a certain whiskey wasn’t available was great too, although nervous.
Having already studied the menu scrupulously, everyone knew what we wanted straight away. My friend M and I both went for the same – a full rack of BBQ bourbon ribs with East Side Slaw and fried onions, £16. My two other friends, O and H, ordered a little more conservatively (the bone marrow sauce put O off the steak) and went for the charcoal grilled 225g burger with chips – an incredibly reasonable £10.50. Lastly, the poor vegetarian of the group, who had but two choices – this menu wasn’t designed with vegetarians in mind, and amen to that – had…”
And I’m sorry to say, this is where I lost interest. Which is not the most glowing report of any restaurant, no matter how much you liked it. As a result, a month later, I can’t for the life of me remember what the vegetarian had, although I suspect it had something to do with pasta. Anyway, I do remember him saying that although it was tasty, it was bloody small. Conveniently, my vegetarian friend is of the ‘if I haven’t ordered/ paid for it, it doesn’t count’ camp, so he happily polished off my ribs later in the evening. He was okay.
So now I’m going to quickly summarise that first experience in one paragraph. First, the wine. OMG. Fucking delicious. We ordered the Pinot Grigio for about twenty quid and it was out of this world. You know when wine menus/ pretentious wine pricks say ‘it has great minerality’ – that’s actually a real thing. I want to say this wine was chalky, but that makes it sound gross. It wasn’t gross, it was awesome, and if you go, drink it. My friends also had some banging cocktails that I can’t remember, but they were good, so have some of them too.
Second paragraph – shit. I better hurry up. My ribs were gorgeous. There was sixteen of those little meaty bastards (can you believe my friend didn’t know ribs were pork. She’s practically a genius, what does that say about the rest of us. Jeesh). It was, like, the whole fucking pig. DE-LI-CIOUS. I am greedy but I couldn’t finish them (hence the vegetarian gobbling half, and I hate sharing). They came with this weirdly acidic barbecue sauce, which was okay, but nothing like the barbecue sauce I know – it was some sugar-free-like liquidy shit. But it was good for dipping. There was some satisfyingly crispy onion bits – think chopped up onions rings fried – and this goddamn awful coleslaw. Now, my man is the king of making coleslaw, and his coleslaw shits all over this stuff. It was vinegary, stringy, and crap. But I ate it, ‘cos I don’t pay £16 for nothing without eating it.
My two friends O and H both ordered burgers. They weren’t asked how they like it, but luckily they both have good palettes and it came medium – and they liked it. I tasted the burger and it was insanely good. Salty as fuck and bright pink in the middle, juicy and in a soft bun with a side of fries. The salty meat reminded me of a sausage roll I had in Borough Market from the Ginger Pig butchers. It was pure saline, and it was pink and it was fucking delicious. Pork shouldn’t even be pink. That’s the sole reason I ordered the burger on my second visit, and that’s the reason I was bitterly let down.
But quickly: dessert. We ordered the ‘Mother of all sundaes’ to share. That’s marshmallow, milk ice cream, Oreo cookies, chocolate brownies and Jack Daniel’s syrup. Served in a sawed-in half Jack Daniel’s bottle. Except, when we ordered, some selfish bastard was having his birthday and all the Jack Daniel’s bottles were out. So we made do with a plate, between four. It was delicious, although a little light on the syrup. Milk ice cream is gorgeous. ‘Nuff said.
Which takes me nicely to our second visit. I’m sorry this is the longest review in food history but just bear with me (I just wrote bare. Teehee). Because tonight changed EVERYTHING. If you’d asked me a month ago after that first visit whether I’d eat at Beard To Tail again it’d be a resounding YES. But now it’s a HELLA NO.
First, I fucked up the reservation number by one extra person, and the lady on the phone got all pissy with me and said she’d have to phone me back to let me know if she could ‘fit us in’. Like she was going to turn down seven people. And when she called back, it was like she’d just parted the red sea for us. So that was an annoying prelude.
Then, when we got there, they were out of bottles of that dazzlingly mineral-y Pinot Grigio and were only selling it by the glass. Forcing us to order the far inferior Sauvignon Blanc between us. Which was crap.
My friend ordered the ribs – the one that thought they came from a cow, which is never a good sign when ordering ribs, really. They were okay. The sauce was still vinegary, but the coleslaw side was INSANE. It was so sharp it made me do that ‘eeeee’ face when you eat something really sour. No-one could finish that shit, not even the hungry vegetarian.
I ordered the burger, because I wanted some salty meat in my mouth after three good hours of drinking sugary alcoholic ginger beer. Ar ye. The lady asked us how we wanted it this time: MEDIUM. She even said ‘so, pink’ in confirmation after. And what did it look like when it turned up? GREY. Did I agree to a grey burger? NO. And it wasn’t even salty. I was robbed. It was the equivalent to a really good Wetherspoon’s burger. Which is the worst review I’ve given any food, ever.
The fat daddy chips were ma-husive. A quartered potato, skins on. Cooked well, though. After that, my friend’s re-ordered the ‘mother of all sundaes’ because that was their stand-out dish last time. I went for the banana tart and peanut butter ice cream because, duh, fucking bananas and peanut butter rock. NOM. Mine was good. Theirs came in the sawed in half Jack Daniel’s bottle, but that’s where the excitement ended. There were fuck all Oreo cookies, and so little Jack Daniel’s syrup they had to ask for extra. Bo-ring.
I can’t remember how much my bill came to but it was about thirty-ish for a main, dessert and wine. Which is okay. Exactly like the food – okay. Last time, I would have happily worn a flashing sign saying EAT HERE NOW. This time, fuck off. Which makes me feel a little bad I was too lazy to finish my first glowing review. Now, all I can say is, go for the booze and dessert, but don’t bother if you want some serious barbecued goodness. It will only let you down. Sorry, Beardy.
PS All of these pics are from my first visit. I couldn’t be bothered to take any this time.