Yesterday was the last day of our Christmas holidays together, which meant it was the last time to take advantage of lazy late lunch dates with my two favourite boys. We decided to pay a visit to Drygate. We’re on the east end of the city so it’s only a couple of minutes down the motorway from us. Add to that my two year old son’s obsession with their mac and cheese and we were onto a winner. (Honestly. He shouted “YEAH! DRYGATE! I like it!” when I said we were going.)
Now Drygate boast a brewery, event space, beer garden and bottle shop under their umbrella, but our visit was purely for some food in their restaurant space. I absolutely love the atmosphere in this space. There are some chic little booths and long, welcoming communal benches with lots of mismatched furniture slotted in between. It creates a very laid back, approachable vibe – something that I personally find can be a bit lacking in the craft beer scene.
We sat at one of their cute leather trimmed booths at the front of the restaurant – ideal for eating with a toddler because you can put a parent either side and reduce the flight risk significantly – and were brought some menus. Now have you ever seen the children’s menu at Drygate? Like many restaurants they have graphics over them that your child can colour to stop them getting bored. Unlike many others, the graphics are actually really cool! They’re all logos that can be found on some of Drygate’s more iconic beers (genius) and if they ever released a Drygate adult colouring book I’d totally snap one up!
With the wee one suitably distracted it was time to browse the menu. One of the first things you notice about the menu at Drygate is the emphasis on quality ingredients. You won’t find simple, carb-heavy pub grub here. Instead you’ll be mulling over 60-day aged steaks with bone marrow, or their signature jerk ox cheek or even a confit leg of Gressingham duck with cassoulet. The menu is packed with well thought-out, flavour-packed dishes that are guaranteed to get your tastebuds tingling. I opted for the Bearface Lager fish and chips – served up with homemade mushy peas, tartare sauce and chunky triple cooked chips.
My food arrived on a large wooden board, which was taken up end to end with a crisp, golden brown, beer-battered fillet of fish. Underneath was a generous serving of those triple cooked chips and on the side some vivid green mushy peas, a head of tartare sauce and a huge chunk of lemon. With the addition of some vinegar to my chips and peas (a must) and a very generous squeeze of lemon over the fish I tucked in to one of the most comforting dishes I’ve eaten in a long time.
The subtle flavour of the lager in the crunchy batter came through just enough and lifted the delicate taste of the flaky fish inside. I appreciate a good batter and often feel that beer can really ruin the subtlety of the fish within, but Drygate have clearly put the time in to finding the perfect pairing for this dish. The triple cooked chips are just. so. fluffy! They’re a fair size, but inside is just a cloud of potato – everything you want from fish ‘n’ chips. With a good helping of real mushy peas on the side and a sharp punch of flavour from the tartare sauce there really isn’t anything I can fault about this dish. It is the standard that should be aimed for in all bar kitchens.
With an equally happy husband (who devoured a pork, black pudding and chorizo burger) and son (“Drygate mac and cheese, yeah!”) fed and watered too our bill for lunch came in at under £30 – great value for the quality of food on offer here. If you have the time to make your lunch a lazy one I’d suggest pairing your meal with one of their many interesting and unique craft beers (my fave is the Apple Ale). Or better yet, spend an afternoon here indulging in food, beer and soaking up the relaxed atmosphere with some friends. You won’t be disappointed.