The small but growing Brewhouse & Kitchen group looks to fill a spot somewhere between the chain pubs from the likes of Greene King and Wetherspoon’s and the trendy gastropub/microbreweries beginning to appear across the country.
With its sixth venue, located enviably on the roundabout outside Highbury & Islington station, it’s bringing what seems to be a tried and tested formula: a modern, relaxed atmosphere, a food menu combining the best of pub grub and grillhouse, and, most impressively of all, an expansive range of beers brewed entirely on-site.
It’s here that Brewhouse & Kitchen begins to stand out from the crowd. An on-site microbrewery may be less of an impressive selling point than it once was, but there are few other brewery pubs in London that could match Brewhouse, Highbury for consistency.
Quaffability is the order of the day here, with every beer a comfortable session drink. The Tramshed bitter is pleasant but unremarkable, though the Romford Pele golden ale makes more of an impression with its hoppy nose and surprisingly smooth, sweet finish. The No. 19 is one of the smoother porters you’re likely to find any time soon, while the seasonal summer special Colonia Estivo, a rye ale, was the clear highlight with its complex, hoppy notes never getting in the way of being incredibly drinkable.
The beers borrow their names from local history and culture (or, in several cases here, Arsenal F.C.), as does the brewery itself: newly christened Brewbury Corner at the pub’s recent Midsummer Night party.
The food on offer does little to surprise, but equally does not disappoint. Alongside the usual array of burgers, steaks and pie, more surprising additions include homemade gumbo and seafood chowder. Slow-roast pork belly was tender and succulent, though lacked the crisp and crunch of truly excellent crackling, while beer-battered cod goujons were light, flavoursome and not too greasy. Keep an eye out for the surprisingly spicy pulled pork, a welcome contrast to the overly sweet variants found elsewhere.
Brewhouse & Kitchen isn’t trying to break the mould, but it hardly needs to. Spacious, welcoming, and selling better beer than most of its competition, it’s basically just a really nice pub, and that’s never a bad thing.