I’M FEARFUL it might be offensive to compare Bromley’s Barrel & Horn to a Shoreditch hangout, but go there and you’ll see why I feel compelled to do so. Last Saturday I found a meaty menu, bar laden with craft beers, band playing in the corner, and decor rustic in that artistic sort of way – like a Monet painted onto cardboard.
We started off the evening tasting a few of the more interesting bottles, which manager Mike talked about with the flair of Lionel Messi and the love of Casanova. The first was the 312 from Goose Island – Barack Obama’s favourite tipple I’m told – which was fragrant and refreshing. And from America we travelled to London, sampling a light ale from The Kernel that boasted the brewery’s telltale aftertaste and weighty notes.
The next two were darker beers: the first was Goose Island’s Pepe Nero, which was strong and malty, working wonderfully with the main courses we opted for; the fourth the very intriguing Pipeline Porter from Hawaii’s Kona Brewing Company, with subtle hints of coffee and spice.
Thankfully we didn’t guzzle our drinks down, because the first two worked well with our crisp fish goujons and caper-aplenty tartar sauce. The fish wasn’t overrun by the batter and the saltiness was fitting. At £5.50 there’s appetite perhaps to even have another batch, too.
We followed with a Flemish beef stew and a venison and red wine pie – both decidedly generous at £9.50. The stew was warm, boozy and you could tell a good stock was involved. It came with chips and salad, which my companion greatly enjoyed. The pie meanwhile was equally rich and sumptuous, but a note must be said for the venison being a touch dry. The accompanying mash was creamy and the kale cooked well, if slightly predictable these days. Our waitress was lovely.
I enjoyed the food but it was the buzz of the place that sang supreme. It was packed full without feeling squeezed and the atmosphere was as good as any bar in the centre of the capital. What Barrel & Horn provides above all is the opportunity to enjoy an evening of relaxed eating, gentle drinking, before moving from table to the bar and seeing the night out without a moment’s thought of going elsewhere.