As an Australian I have always had a real appreciation for beer so I was excited to be invited along with my friend Sully to visit Mason & Taylor in Shoreditch. Mason & Taylor opened in December and is a real ale and craft beer bar which also does a range of small sharing plates that are a cut above the usual choices at bars. The bar is located on busy Bethnal Green road and big picture windows face out onto the road so patrons can watch the passers by and vice versa (it is Shoreditch after all!). Inside, the look is pared back and industrial with low hanging bare light bulbs dangling over tables and exposed wiring and pipes in the ceiling.
Caramalised pear salad with the quail scotch eggs in the background
The beer menu is extensive and features beers from around the world including a mix of beers available on tap and bottled. They even stock gluten free beer which is something I have never come across before. There are also some more limited wine options available for those strange people out there who don’t drink beer. Out of the beers we tried, the best were the Hophead from the Dark Star Brewery (£3.20) and the Ginger Marble from Marble Brewery (£4.50). The Hop Head is the house ale and Mason & Taylor’s “favourite session beer”. It had a slight citrus tang to it and was refreshing to drink. The Ginger Marble was laced with real ginger giving it a great kick and almost warm burn from the ginger.
Ginger Marble beer
From the concise food menu, the caramalised pear, walnut and Cropwell Bishop salad (£4) was spectacularly good for something so slight. The pear gave it sweetness, the walnut crunch and the Cropwell Bishop gave it cheese, an instant improvement to any dish. The ham, poached duck egg and parsley sauce (£5) was a bit more of a breakfast dish than a bar snack but did not really suffer for this and stood up well to the beers we drank.
Food menus ready to go
Scotch quail eggs (£3) with gribiche sauce were served warm but the yolks could have been runnier. Cured loin of venison (£5.50) with redcurrants was like a British answer to jamon in Spanish tapas bars. The meat was just the right side of gamey making it perfect pub grub. However, another cold meat dish, the pickled ox tounge served with blackberries (£5), was overly salty and really too similar to the venison for such a small menu.
Ham with poached duck egg
The sweet end of the menu at Mason & Taylor was limited to three dishes but the two we tried were both strong. Eton Mess (£4) was a lovely confection of creamy swirls while the tooth-melting chocolate pudding (£5) was probably the highlight of the whole meal.
Pickled ox tounge
This is a bar for beer lovers and the food, while decent enough, is secondary. Still, Mason & Taylor has a nice relaxed atmosphere and offers something a bit different to the slew of recent wine bars in London.
Details: Mason & Taylor, 51-55 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch E1 6LA (Ph: 020 7749 9670) Tube: Liverpool Street
Damage: Reasonable although I did not have to pay on this occasion.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my review of the new wine bar Brawn or just around the corner from Mason & Taylor you can try Pizza East.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Mason & Taylor.