The Beer Kitchen is Innis & Gunn’s first bar (see The BeerCast for juicy details), restoring the premises to a pub rather than a strip joint. The last pub on this spot was The Bull & Bush I think, something in the region of 10 years ago.
It’s stylish and on-trend (though they obviously missed the random copper piping memo) with greys and pastel shades, lots of leather seating, exposed stone and brick walls, oversized lampshades, shiny white tiles and some interesting bespoke artwork. The lower level as you walk in has a small bar which I suppose is for tasting nights or something, but which had been commandeered by some office types. On the right hand side they’ve made a feature out of the presumably original fireplace (no idea if it’s functional), some comfy chairs (or am I imagining that, no picture?) and a few board games. Up a few steps is the main bar, stretching most of the way to the back along the left wall. The painted woodwork behind the bar looks like it might be quite old, but I’d be surprised if that had survived its time as a strip joint. The cornices survived though, so maybe. Also at the bar level, taking most of the space, is the dining area which loosely resembles a posh diner with its high-backed fitted leather seats surrounding each table.
The upper bar area is a little tight, with the segregated food area dominating the floorspace. The night we were in (a Tuesday just before the festival, and a week or two after they first opened) it was busy with mostly office types. Getting to the bar was a bit more physical than I’m used to on a Tuesday, punters were sitting in the way all along it. We considered grabbing a table and ordering food, but decided to move on after our drinks instead.
The beer selection is better than I expected, not just an Innis & Gunn show. On keg there were 4 I&G beers, Drygate Bearface Lager, Lagunitas IPA and Camden Hells plus 6 others I totally missed but can see in a photo. Cask offerings were Fyne Ales Vital Spark, Taylors Landlord and 2 more unused lines. There were plenty of non-standard bottles and cans to choose from too, e.g. Wiper & True, 6 Degrees North.
My expectations of being fleeced in here were thankfully not met, though none of us actually ordered any I&G beers. In retrospect I’m confused about the pricing and what we got for our money. On the night I thought the beers were competitively priced as the drinks we had were all under £4 a pop. They seemed like pint glasses, certainly more than a schooner, but virtually all of the prices on their online menu are over £4 a pint. E.g. I’m sure that the Bearface was £3.85ish on the night, yet the menu says they should have been £4.35. Tuesday night happy hour? Recent price changes? Who knows?
They do growlers for takeaway, though the wording on their website makes it sound like not all of the beers on tap are growlable. There’s no discount on volume sales, you just pay for the beers as if you’d ordered pints at the bar.
The food looked good as it went past, and prices were essentially in the same ballpark as other higher end pubs in town. For example, their burger was £11 (only one to choose from, a cheeseburger essentially), and so was the fish and chips.
As mentioned previously there are a few board games including Scrabble and Boggle, and a growler bar. They have occasional tasting events with guest distillers etc.
No castle view.