Few weeks ago, wandering around the excellent Ribstock, it struck me that (unless I missed some hidden rules) everything was very…. well, porky. It was an amazing event; 10 dishes from top chefs and 3 drinks for £20 (or £25 if you were slow on the draw) plus additional craft beers for £2 a pop from some of London’s best micro-breweries, yet none of the chefs had cooked anything beyond pork ribs.
Pork ribs can be – and in the case of Ribstock generally were – excellent, but they are not the only choice. OK, Lamb ribs are one for the adventurous given the difficulty in getting the fat to render into something tasty, but Beef ribs ? Why no takers ?
Amongst those micro-breweries stocking the bar at Ribstock was Beavertown Brewery, who provide the liquid part of the “Duke’s Brew & Que“, a new-ish establishment set-up in North London’s De Beauvoir Town (read as Haggerston, given it’s 2 minutes walk from said Overground station). Given the fact that their “8 Ball” IPA was my favourite brew of the day, it went straight onto the “to visit” list (Laura made similar positive noises about their “Smog Rocket” Porter).
Bank Holiday Monday lunchtime, we’re more-than-a-bit bit hungry and only two stops down the line from Duke’s. An end of lunchtime walk-up (they do accept bookings should you wish to make a special trip) and we make a quick scan and order of the small menu. Pork Sliders, Beef ribs and deep fried pickles & Okra with some fries on the side. Oh and 8-Ball & Porter to wash it down.
Sitting watching the open-kitchen was enlightening as ever; a busy lunchtime service and a well organised crew, well-drilled, however service lagged slightly behind their high standards – some food sat on the warmers for longer than ideal – but this is another establishment in its infancy, so it’s important not to be over judgemental on that score.
The food was similarly mixed, but again with the emphasis on the positive; the Okra & Pickles was really only Okra and as a result lacked the required tang (whilst in itself a decent stab), the sliders were tasty and tangy, but lacking a little moisture in the pulled pork. However, the beef ribs were fantastic…. perfectly cooked, sweet caramelised fat hugging the bones, rested properly to retain the juice and and once we’d discovered that the magic yellow bottle on the table was in fact “Horseradish & Mustard”, set off beautifully. These, with that as a sauce, would have rocked Ribstock. Really.
The place is at this stage a work in progress, the menu is still being shaken down to find the real staples and they are still working to find the right suppliers to provide the perfect raw materials. For too long, London’s ‘cue lovers were for too dependent upon Bodean’s gradually fading light to give them their fix, with Pit Cue and now Duke’s popping up, I’m hoping that all will continue to raise the standards that – on the evidence of much of this meal – it is evident they have the ability to reach.
Duke’s Brew & Que, 33 Downham Road, De Beauvoir Town, Hackney, London N1 5AA [terrible, 1995 style website]