In this restaurant review, blogger Rebecca Milford tells us about her experience at a local bar, the Peg+Patriot.
In Three Words: Experimental, Trail-blazing, Fascinating
The Lowdown: Peruse the menu at Peg+Patriot, and you’re likely to find your eyes darting about in excitement, unable to settle on any one thing – skittish as an ant jacked up on discarded Starburst. Whimsical names such as Tea Cake Martini and Tajine Genie leap out, and then you start to notice the ingredients. Pancake soda? Pak choi? Pollen?
It’s getting more and more common for cocktail bars to be pushing the boundaries when it comes to presentation, style and recipes, but there are certain establishments that were at the forefront of creating experimental and somewhat whacky drinks.
Matt Whiley started making a name for himself at Talented Mr Fox. Some of those names might have included the adjectives ‘bonkers’ and ‘eccentric.’ Using his proficiency with distilling and tinkering, he’s able to convert simple spirits into taste-sensations.
Your Plus One: Bring someone you want to excite and flummox – maybe that friend from outside of London that considers a lychee martini as a boundary-pushing cocktail. They’ll be blown away. Or equally an aficionado who will truly appreciate what’s going on here. We recommend that for your first visit you perch at the bar – this is where the magic happens and you can have front-row seats and get amongst the action.
The Decor: Located on Patriot street in Bethnal Green, the bar is part of what looks like a rather imposing town hall. There’s an elegant foyer, and on the left you can see the bustling activity of the kitchens for The Typing Room. To your right is Peg+Patriot, channelling a stylish-lounge with gunmetal grey walls, shining surfaces, dark leather booths and dangling lights above a gorgeous central bar.
Ambience: There’s the buzz of creativity in the air, and while the bar staff all look relaxed and are very welcoming, it’s also lovely to see the passion they have for their craft. We like the fact that, although it’s innovative, Peg+Patriot isn’t trying to be too trendy. There’s a refined feel to the place; it’s not too dimly lit; and the music isn’t blaring.
Cocktail Highlights: The whole menu – currently printed on cream card with an almost hand-drawn appeal – will have you ‘ooo-ing’ with curiosity. One that simply must be tried is the Pho Money Pho Problems – a mix of viet spiced Finlandia vodka, lime leaf and Pak Choi. There are hints of coriander and it spectacularly evokes the sensations of Asia – one sip and you’re transported to the bustling, crowded and hectic streets of steamy Vietnam. Our favourite was probably the Super Soaker. This attractive and punchy concoction is a mixture of Woodford Reserve bourbon, watermelon, x and x. The whiskey lends a delicious smooth, caramel quality, while the fruit gives a refreshing wave that lifts the whole drink.
Something to Soak Up the Booze: Peg+Patriot offers a concise menu for those that need to chow down, with signature creative twists. Crumbed garlic sausage comes with smoked apple puree, while chips are accompanied by chicken fat and truffle mayo.
Burning a Hole? We consider the pricing here to be outstanding value – the most expensive is £11 and the average is about £9.50. For cocktails of this calibre it really is impressive.
Overall: It can be a risk that bars dealing in inventive libations are possibly going to be rather pretentious and up their own test-tubes, or perhaps take the ‘conceptual drinking’ idea a bit too far. Luckily Peg+Patriot falls into neither of these categories. It instead has the perfect balance of making drinks thrilling yet accessible, without scrimping on quality whatsoever. It’s an absolute must for cocktail aficionados, and we can bet that after just one visit you’ll be planning your return – to work your way through the rest of the menu, and also to repeat some new favourites.