If you walk along Bethnal Green Road from end to end on a Friday night you will see all of human life. Ad-agency-types fall out of Addison Lees into Shoreditch House; Italian students confirm their love for each other by securing a padlock over the ‘BoxPark’ fence; Intellectuals scurry into Rich Mix cinema to watch obscure Argentinian documentaries; Chinese girls giggle over bowls of smacked cucumber and pigs trotters at the Gourmet San restaurant; Mariah Carey’s plaintiff wail seeps out of the Karioke night at the Marquis of Cornwallis pub and the hoards flood in, headed for Brick Lane for a night of beer, balloons and bagels.
It’s bang in the middle of this hearty, human soup that you’ll find The Star of Bethnal Green – the pub that sub-heads itself The Grown Up Ravers Boozer Of Choice. No, really. Despite this, the Featherblade pop-up restaurant team chose to launch a four month residency here with their ‘mission to make quality British meat accessible’. And having eaten their hanger steak last night, I’d say mission accomplished.
I’ll have to return and try something else because everyone in my group last night ate the same thing – hanger steak, medium rare with sauces and sides. But it was worth it. Firstly the steak. It was really as good as any I’ve had at the traditionally ‘meaty’ places – Flat Iron, Hix etc – full of flavor, perfectly cooked with a great crusty exterior and a yielding bite. Between us, we tried the Béarnaise sauce and the peppercorn sauce – both were very good – I’m not ashamed to say I used my fingers to clean up the last of my peppercorn sauce from its little ramekin dish. We shared a creamy gratin of leeks and Westcombe cheddar which was delicious, if artery-hardening. We ordered chips to share and had to order more as they were rather spectacular – huge crispy wedges of chip served with a great, savoury beer ketchup. The house salad was garnished with crispy shallots and walnuts and the ‘greens’ were actually old-school white cabbage softened in butter with shallots and shards of chilli and, frankly, a million miles away from the cabbage of my childhood. Some very ‘classic’ dishes but they’re all given an interesting spin.
There was only one pudding on the menu and we were all too full of steak to consider it but I will make it MY mission to go back for the malted salted chocolate cake with salted beer caramel & malted cream. Really, who wouldn’t?
We were lucky enough to take advantage of an opening-week offer which gave us half price steak and a free bottle of wine so our bill was almost embarrassingly small (4 steaks, 5 sides, a bottle of wine and 4 pints totalled a ludicrous £58). But even without that, it’s a great value dinner in the middle of a road that’s a million miles away from being middle-of-the-road.
The Star of Bethnal Green, 359 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 6LG