If I had to compare my immune system to something, it would probably be TFL Rail. Shoddy, unreliable, and falls apart at the first sign of cold weather. Every year, my immune system will surrender its defences and self-destruct as soon as winter approaches, and so, when I remained healthy for the most part of this winter, I knew that something was up. Lo and behold, it did not last, and as the “Beast from the East” unleashed its fury last week, my body disintegrated into a feverish meltdown.
My only saving grace was that on this occasion, my senses remained intact, and instead of having a constant taste of paper mache in my mouth, I could actually enjoy my food. That did not help the boredom however, and after a sad long week of isolated quarantine, I decided it was time to venture back into the world – regardless of whether or not I passed out as a result. With this death wish in place, I summoned The Goat Whisperer, and headed out for a meal at the newly-opened “Beef and Birds” on Brick Lane.
What’s certain, is that the menu at Beef and Birds is rather unique, with a number of wacky and creative items on hand. We began our own meal with a risky portion of “Dark Chocolate BBQ wings” – a combination that may very well have been conceived in the dark corners of a school playground. The tender wings lay slathered in a generous amount of “chocolate BBQ sauce” – the chocolate element of which, was very subtle. Ultimately, the sauce imparted a sticky sweetness upon the wings, and rather than being an infantile train wreck, the combination of chocolate and BBQ – bizarrely, seemed to work.
Dark Chocolate BBQ Wings (£4.95)
Another item that caught my eye was the “Beef and Birds poutine”. For those who are unaware, poutine – (not to be confused with Putin – President of Russia), is a Canadian dish composed of fries, cheese curds, and beef gravy, and it is one of the many dishes that I have been craving since I visited Toronto. Sadly, my excitement to see it on a UK menu was short-lived, as the Beef and Birds poutine fell short in both texture and taste. Of particular note was the gravy, which was slightly sour, and lacked the rich, umami flavour that I was expecting.
Fortunately, the chilli and maple potatoes saved the day. Here, the crisp, yet thick potatoes soaked up the sticky slather of chilli and maple syrup, resulting in a sweet and mildly spicy side that was truly addictive.
Chilli & Maple Potatoes (£3.95) *Recommended*
Our first burger of the evening was the relatively popular “Dirty Diana”, which consisted of a wet-aged beef patty drenched in a creamy mustard, peppercorn and mushroom sauce. As the thick and soft brioche bun held this messy madness together, the rich sauce delivered a smooth and uniform umami flavour. However, this was somewhat offset by the dense and slightly spongy texture of the beef patty, which failed to offer memorable, inherent flavours of its own.
Dirty Diana (£10.95)
We also tried the “Truffle Shuffle” burger, which boasted a beef patty infused with truffle oil, and topped with a generous helping of truffle mayonnaise. Once again, the main auxiliary component – the truffle mayonnaise, provided the bulk of the satisfaction, whilst the spongy, well-done beef patty let down the entire show.
Truffle Shuffle (£10.95)
Value For Money: 3/5
Generally, starters and sides cost around £5, and burgers range from £8 to £12. Our own bill amounted to approximately £40 for two, which was certainly a reasonable sum relative to the volume of food that we had ordered. However, when one factors in the quality and calibre of the food – well, sadly, it just isn’t there. The beef patties in particular, are just too dense and too spongy to provide a satisfying experience for the palate, no matter how many creative sauces and components are slathered on top.
Fortunately, as a relatively new establishment, staff members seemed to be very receptive to this feedback, and one would hope that improvements are made over the coming months and years.
Decor / Ambience: 3/5
In keeping with the status quo, Beef and Birds features a typically rustic, wooden decor, with a range of comfortable seating that could host perhaps 20-30 diners at any one time. Unfortunately however, the restaurant was more or less empty when we visited, which made for a rather awkward dining atmosphere. The restaurant can be found just before Brick Lane Mosque – a short 5-10 minute walk from Aldgate East station. Pay & Display parking spaces are available immediately outside and on adjacent off-roads, and most restrictions end at 7pm.
Alas, despite their creative flair, (and their sheer bravery in combining chocolate and BBQ sauce), Beef and Birds fall short of the goal that they are clearly trying to achieve. Whilst the ambition is certainly there, the execution is not, and I can’t help but feel that with a few small adjustments, they really could soar as a creative burger establishment. For now however, it may be wise to watch and wait, and hope that they evolve with experience.
Halal status: All the meat served here is certified halal.
Beef and Birds
Address: 76 Brick Lane, London E1 6RL
Telephone: 020 7247 3233