As always, it is a bonus when the sun is still shining when you finish work, especially on a Friday. Naturally we all want to combine that with drinking in the sun. And so my colleagues (they are friends too) and I left the office (early since the boss said we could) and worked our way out of The City to try and find a spot with some seats and sun. ‘We’ll be lucky if the sun is still shining once we’ve found somewhere,’ one of us said and at that point we all gave up, after only 20 minutes of walking. Then as we looked across the road we spotted Penkul and Banks (formerly Beard & Tail) with its patio doors flung wide open with empty seats just outside in the sun – yaaaay!
Once sat we realised that this great spot was not really in the sun but more in the path of gusts of wind, so we moved inside onto the couches by the patio doors. There was no sun but we had soaked up enough on our 20 minute walk and instead opted for some ‘fresh air’.
Having taken in the cocktail menu, we were persuaded to try the no-nonsense sounding ‘Armed Forces’ as it ‘never fails to disappoint’. It definitely packed a tasty punch of Bombay Sapphire, lemon juice, orgeat (sweet syrup made from almond, sugar and orange flower water. Yep, we had to Google it too!). And before even finishing the first round we all ordered the same for our second round.
Coincidentally, Penkul and Banks had just reopened 2 days prior to us coming across it and we were told that the revamp had focused on honouring the tradesmen who formerly had workshops on the site. This grabbed one friend’s attention as she explored the cleverly crafted lighting and shelving in this wood clad interior. The craftsmanship is pretty incredible.
It was after our second round of drinks (everything is clearer after drink no.2) that we realised that P&B sits on the former site of Beard and Tail. When we enquired, we were told that the restaurant/bar was still under the same management team but since opening they were no longer the only restaurant in the area serving every and any part of any animal. Now they are looking to explore something new and set a new trend. With that I was now hungry (there are few occasions when I’m not) and convinced one of my friends to share a few plates with me. We ordered Bacon, quail’s egg, ranch, romaine, San Marzano, burrata, balsamic shallot, raw tuna, avocado, radish, ponzu and mini burgers, bacon, cheese, avocado. They all sounded real tasty and looked the part when they arrived but it is all in the taste and flavour that unfortunately weren’t there.
Ok ok, I take it back. The quails eggs were cooked perfectly (to my liking) being slightly runny and naturally worked well with the crispy bacon. But the core of the romaine lettuce had not been removed and this is quite bitter. The tuna was fresh but the avocado brought nothing to the dish. And the burger was dry. A real shame as you could tell that a really big effort had been put into the presentation of each of the dishes. This had really been thought through so there was not too much going on on the plate and you could see exactly what had been simply described on the menu.
I had stopped taking pictures. I actually had forgotten now having that Friday feeling. We needed to carb it up at this point and still hungry we ordered a few more dishes – the fried chicken wings and patatas with aioli. The chicken came and just from looking at them you could tell they were dry to the bone. The chicken wings had been fried a little too long, to the point that they looked anaemic. Most of the moisture had been lost and the little juice that came out was more the oil it had been fried in than any kind of chicken juice. They also lacked seasoning. A real shame.
I was done but my friends wanted to see the meal out and order dessert. We ordered our desserts at the same time as ordering some more drinks. Our drinks arrived but no desserts. We waited about 15 minutes before informing the manager our desserts had not arrived and because of the wait we were not charged for the desserts. The dessert arrived and we all had a knowing look on our faces. The strawberries and meringues were not worth the £9 being charged (even if we did get it for free) as the strawberries had simply been cut in half, placed amongst a few droplets of whipped cream and a few meringues the size of a 10p piece. We know revenue has to be made but this was definitely overpriced and could be made at home. And the Iranian pistachio cake, yoghurt gel, orange powder did hit the spot (Yay! Credit to you, Mr. Pastry Chef) though it was not ‘light’ as described to us when the order was placed; it was actually quite dense
We appreciated that the manager did care and asked for feedback when it came to paying the bill.
Having only been open for 2 days I don’t want to knock P&B for their efforts. Though I think P&B still need time to find their feet, and the new trend they are looking to set needs work; they really don’t seem to be doing anything different from other places in the area. I will go back, maybe in 6 months, but I’m in no rush.