A beery bar and restaurant from Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery.
Balham’s Vintage Ale House seems to be in the throes of a minor identity crisis. That name – and the fact that it’s the first UK opening for Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery – implies that it’s one of those elaborate craft beer pubs they do so well across the pond. True, there are a few oversized bar tap ‘toppers’ like you see in the US (model goose heads and a teeny telephone), and a small list of hops-infused cocktails. But GI have erred on something a little more refined: a wood-clad, low-ceilinged, open-kitchened joint that’s more beer-led restaurant than late-night watering hole.
Food is the focus, and portions are very, er, American. And not smugly clean-eating west coast American either. Heart of the Midwest, ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ American. A ‘starter’ of smoked short rib and blue cheese croquettes – intensely beefy, beautifully fried, slicked with sriracha mayo and the size of soap bars – was gigantic. Likewise a platter of chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates with an exemplary romesco sauce. The same size, basically, as the house burger that followed: buttery rich, shot through with marrow and topped with taleggio. Chips here are chunky, crinkly (high five!) and clearly hand-cut. To finish: ‘Oh my! Caramel pie’. A light caramel cream/fudge slabbed onto a biscuit base with barley ice cream and honeycomb. It was utterly worth the frivolous punctuation.
Delicious? Sure. Cripplingly rich? Oh yes. Thank god for all that beer, then. A pint of 321 Urban Wheat Ale was insipid, but a ‘prestige’ flight of vintage Belgian-style ales – massively expensive by the wine-sized bottle, another nod to the non-boozehound nature of this place – was superb. Particularly killer was a tart, fruity glass of the brewery’s Lolita beer, aged in wine barrels. Drown me in sour beer. But first, bring me back here for more of those croquettes.
|Venue name:||Goose Island Vintage Ale House||Contact:|
3 Ramsden Road
|Price:||Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £90.|
|Do you own this business?|