Beagle is rather at odds with its Hoxton surroundings, set in an area densely populated with budget Vietnamese cafés, and not much else. Taking up three of the railway arches below Hoxton station (is it just me or are all the recent hipster restaurant openings set in railway arches?!), architectural magic has been performed in transforming the industrial space into a warm and inviting bar, café and restaurant. In fact the venue has been named after one of the early 20th century steam trains that ran on the original East London line, and it rumbles every five minutes or so as a train passes overhead.
You enter Beagle through the bar – dimly lit, with an acclaimed cocktail menu – and pass into the adjacent arch for the restaurant. The styling and service are simple but effective, much like the menu, which takes a back-to-basics British approach to dining, utilising local ingredients and in-house expertise to the full.
Our waitress was engaging (almost too chatty) as she talked us through the specials in great length, chose a wine for me (which was excellent), and steered me away from the onglet steak when I mentioned I like my meat cooked medium-well.
Food was seasonally appropriate, with good wintery starters like spatchcocked quail (terribly fiddly to eat, but strong and smokey in flavour, with Moroccan influences) and white onion soup with bone marrow toast (which Richard proclaimed to be delicious – so delicious, it seems, that I didn’t even get a taste!).
A rich and hearty venison stew for my main course contained meat so tender it broke apart with no need for a knife, though sadly Richard’s charcoal-grilled plaice, with a lacklustre slaw on the side, was so disappointing that we sent it back to the kitchen. Unfortunate, though the staff were desperate to rectify the situation.
We moved swiftly onto dessert instead, where a dense and indulgent Salted Caramel Chocolate Pot was the stand-out winner.
Beagle is a welcome addition to the otherwise one-dimensional Hoxton/Haggerston dining scene. The bar in particular has a fantastic atmosphere and will work year-round – cosy in winter, but with outdoor seating for when it’s warmer.
It’s also an all-day destination, housing a small, Workshop Coffee-serving café and a moody cocktail bar, with brunch, express lunch and dinner served alongside. The restaurant vibe is classic and stylish; just exercise some caution with your ordering to ensure you’re opting for the strongest items on the slightly hit-and-miss menu – because when Beagle gets it right, it gets it spot-on.
397-400 Geoffrey Street, Hoxton, E2 8HZ
Book online here