It seems a few folks - including myself - misunderstood the game here… It’s not about matching the right beer to your food, it's having the beer added to your food while it's being prepared. Bloody genius.
With so much to choose from we decided to start with three starters between the two of us. First up, grapefruit pale ale cured sea trout (£6); delicious, tender pieces of lightly cured trout with a pleasing citrus tang that make you wonder how smoked salmon ever became more popular. Even for my culinary companion, who doesn’t normally like fish, this was a big hit. We went in full and had a can of the pale ale too, and although I'm not sure if fruit beer is really my thing, it wasn't a bad drop.
When the waiter asked, "How about some duck ham?” We said yes, and it turns out that this was the correct answer. Cured in the amazingly named scuttlebutt porter and sliced thinly, the duck came served with drunken blackberries and duck skin popcorn (£7). The duck itself was full of flavour and instead of masking these, the porter enhanced and added to it, the blackberries making a tart and welcome addition to the taste party. We weren't entirely sold on the popcorn, mainly due to some issues with it getting stuck in my teeth, but it’s easy enough to eat around and it looks nice.
Ginger beer braised pig cheek (£6). Hands down, this little piggy stands on the number one spot on the podium of entrées; carefully presented rectangles of pig cheek that have been cooked and re-cooked then glazed with ginger beer to give it a crispy edge with a tender meaty middle, like some kind of perverted pork Ferrero Rocher. All topped with the most perfect piece of crackling lightly balanced on top.
For our mains we ordered a braised lamb shoulder (£12) and a roast duck breast (£14). The lamb was cooked in pilsner and severed on creamy mashed potato with some Goose Fair-style minty mushy peas. If I was to flag up anything that wasn’t perfect in this meal I’d say the beer may have overpowered the flavour of the meat a touch.
The duck on the other hand was far from reproachable. It came with chilli vegetables and 'dirty' roast potatoes, all fantastically cooked and doused in a hoisin sauce with a drop of Delirium Red cherry beer. The duck leg lollipop was a spectacular addition.
The evening was nicely finished off with a vanilla panacotta and a salted caramel cheesecake (£4 each). The panacotta was sprinkled with beetroot granola and spent grain caramel. Although it felt like the beer link was hanging by a thread here, we appreciated the fact it was not overdone to compromise the simplicity of a delicious pud.
The cheesecake was pretty special: notably the cream was mixed with a Tiny Rebel marshmallow porter as a very welcome subtlety in the flavour. In fact, someone should write to Tiny Rebel and tell them to focus more on dessert ingredients than beer.
It must be said that the folks in The Herbert Kilpin's kitchen are a very talented bunch. But don’t sit about: you’ve only got till Sunday before this menu changes again. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for similarly themed forthcoming events.
P.S. They’ve got a whole Brunch section with muffins waffles and stuff too so get down this weekend for a hangover cure… that’s cooked in booze.
The Hebert Kilpin, 10 Bridlesmith Walk, NG1 2HB
The Herbert Kilpin's website