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Food Review: Time to hail the Draft House ale in Hammersmith

Adrian Seal eats at the Draft House, 238 Shepherd’s Bush Road, Hammersmith, W6 7NL. Tel: 020 7042 5109. Go to: www.drafthouse.co.uk

They say that fine wine compliments good food, but how about cracking beers complimenting hearty meaty dishes – especially one that had travelled 800 miles that very day.

Well that is part of the concept of the Draft House, in Hammersmith, which is now starting to find its feet after opening earlier in the year.

Draft House is part of a small chain of pubs across the London area and this latest venture was opened by publican Charlie McVeigh on the busy Shepherd’s Bush Road a few hundred yards from Hammersmith Broadway.

It sits on the former home of the Laurie Arms, a pub which was steeped in rock ‘n’ roll history and served as a backdrop to the famous Hammersmith Palais, which played host to legends like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and David Bowie to name just a few.

The interior even plays homage to this hall of fame, with original gig posters, neon signage and a vintage playlist. There are two sides to the pub, one more traditional with its large bar, wooden flooring and original stained glass windows and the other a large light and airy glass roofed conservatory, which is ostensibly the dining area.

There is also an outside space for those wanting to enjoy those glorious summer days that hopefully lay ahead.

The conservatory is where the real buzz and vibe is with comfortable banquettes in charcoal and mustard, brightly coloured upholstered stools, wooden chairs and tables and benches of various heights. Brightly coloured neon lights adorn the walls and large clear ‘goldfish bowl’ lights hang gloriously from the ceiling.

Like all the Draft House pubs, the Hammersmith site markets itself as ‘serving the best beer available to humanity’ and it does have a mighty impressive list of draft and bottle beers available. This really is a place which takes its lagers and ales very seriously. So much so that you can order your favourite tipple in a variety of sizes, from a third of a pint upwards to a full pint.

And to complement the beers on offer it has now launched a new Char-Pit, a charcoal grill housed in the pub, providing beer matches expertly chosen from the pub’s colossal list to accompany each dish.

The new menu is dominated by big meaty dishes like char-pit ribs, steaks and hamburger specials, while there is contrast with charcoal-grilled halloumi and Mediterranean vegetable skewers and grilled salmon steaks.

There was certainly plenty of atmosphere on the Thursday night I visited, with the chatter inside the pub trying to keep up with the noise of the busy road outside – you don’t come to eat at this place if you are looking for a really quiet evening.

We started with two-third pints of refreshing LBC Little Vienna (£3.80) and Draft House Pilsner (£2.80) and both lagers went down well as we studied the menu.

I went for the 28-day aged Aberdeen Angus 6oz sirloin, which was not the best or worst steak I have ever had. It had plenty of flavour and was tender, but was more medium than the medium rare ordered. It came with some tasty roasted tomatoes, a decent peppercorn sauce and a boatload (their words not mine) of good fries (£3.40).

Fiona never can resist a burger and was tempted by The Smoke (£9.90), which delivered a well-cooked juicy burger packed with added interest in the form of smoked cheddar, streaky bacon and chipotle mayo and fries. We shared a crisp, fresh and well-dressed salad (£2.90).

Our food was complemented by two more titillating beers – a Hackney American pale ale (£2.50 for a two/third) and a Stiegl Goldbrau (£3.40), both of which were hugely enjoyable.

We finished off by sharing an indulgent and fun pud in the form of a calorific salted caramel and popcorn ice cream sundae (£4.90) – you could certainly not match any serious beers with it but it tasted damn good.

And back to that beer which had travelled 800 miles that day from the Czech Republic in wooden casks.

The unfiltered, unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell was a cool lager and shows just how serious the Draft House is about its beers, now complemented further by some pretty decent pub grub.

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