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Thursday, 13 January 2011

Mason & Taylor, Shoreditch (NOW BREWDOG)

Over a dozen draughts and forty bottled craft beers and ciders are the tempting offer at new Shoreditch shout, Mason & Taylor, sister to The Duke of Wellington, Dalston. Instinctively, I gravitate to a list of ‘oddities’: Fraoch Heather, amber contentment at £4, and Kelpie,  a treacly seaweed stew that hints at dark, stormy, winter nights in coastal bothies in the wilds of Argyllshire - both from Williams Brothers of Alloa. There’s more interesting froth from as far afield as Ukraine and Brooklyn, while Bermondsey’s Kernel Porter, based on a Victorian recipe from Truman’s in nearby Brick Lane, is just one example of the venue’s support for the welcome revival of London’s artisan brewing tradition. What you won’t find here, is lager lout swill. Good news! Good too, are £3 - £6 small plates (please, not ‘British tapas’): addictive salt grilled Jerusalem artichokes; ham and egg; whitebait; (Toulouse) sausage and mash and fat boy puds served by attentive charmers. ‘Accentuate the positive’ is my New Year’s resolution, so, I have. What deserves a kicking is the architects’ ‘thorough redesign’ of what was once (and still looks uncannily like) Green & Red - minus that bar’s mellow Mexican cantina vibe. A 1960s Malibu beach blanket party soundtrack is totally at odds with a frigid, deconstructed, impersonal hard-edged, concrete shell. At a banquette booth (pictured above, nearly completed), facing a swinging door that ushers in blasts of Arctic air smokers pop in and out for a snout, I muse that The Beach Boy's Californian Girls would never know such a shivery plight. To be fair, our waiter offers us another pew. As the table much too close to its neighbour, we prefer our Siberian isolation and the chance to flaunt nifty parkas indoors. Mason & Taylor, then? Great beer, and if 1960s Brutalist Bulgarian bus station’s half-built cafeteria is your bag, wrap up warm and dive in!

51 - 55 Bethnal Green Road, E1 7749 9670