Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Mason & Taylor might be mostly about the beer, but you have to also love it for the entertainment factor in watching all the people outside trying to find the front door. I tried pushing in the window and did at least 2 laps before I worked it out. Try walking in with dignity after you've head butted the window.
Fortunately, it's worth the humiliation. Mason & Taylor is a craft beer and real ale bar, which opened in December 2010. All beers come from independent brewers, there are 12 draught beers and ales on tap a "seasonal" list of 40 bottled beers which changes every 2 months. You can now even work through tasting flights of three or six 1/3 pint glasses.
However the Sunday lunch is also a winner.
At Ms L's birthday lunch recently, the 3 boys shared a gargantuan shoulder of roast Herwick lamb which came out in proportions that really could have fed all 5 of us (it's recommended for 2 or 3 at £65 total). Just the sight of it was the cause of much excitement, but it was also gorgeously tender, pink and delicious.
My roast chicken was equally fab and juicy (£12.50). Both came with hefty servings of crisp and fluffy duck fat roast taties, parsnip, carrots and sprout tops (and mine with bread sauce). Ms L seemed just as enamoured with her roasted artichoke veggie roast.
TPG - always a dessert traditionalist - felt the Eton Mess should not have been messed with, being made with cranberry rather than strawberries, and so he opted for the terrific chocolate pud - insanely rich, but nothing a good slosh of cream couldn't help with (£4.50-£5).
Aside from the Sunday roast, M&T's food is generally served on smaller sharing plates. We grazed a couple of months ago over some beer and wine in the evening - while there's nothing overly remarkable, the combinations are simple and tasty - like scotch quails eggs with sauce gribiche, caramelised pear, walnut and Cropwell Bishop salad, wild boar sausage and beetroot mash and ginger beer battered squid with cucumber dipping sauce. The grazing plates (all priced around £3-£6.50) are good, although the Sunday roast tops them for me, and the evenings are mostly about something decent to nibble while you focus on the beer.
Mason and Taylor is light and airy, with wooden tables and chairs and big floor to ceiling windows right round - a seat by the corner window had us basking in the glow of Sunday afternoon sun, watching Shoreditchians dancing in the streets to the jazz down the road. The staff are equally sunny, and prices are very reasonable - we paid about £30 per head for a whole afternoon of feasting and drinking.
If I lived in Shoreditch, this would be a regular Sunday afternoon haunt.
Mason & Taylor, 51-55 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London, E1 6LA (Tel: 020 7749 9670)