In three formerly derelict railway arches tucked beneath Hoxton overground station sits a restaurant called Beagle.
The creation of the Clancy brothers, Danny, 34, and Kieran, 30, who live in Clapton, Beagle opened its doors in April 2013 to wide acclaim.
Beagle takes its name from the eponymous steam trains that ran on the East London Line between 1911 and 1937. The telltale purr of the overground, which sits directly above the diners, can still be heard as the trains rumble into Hoxton station.
The outside seating area is made of old railway sleepers – a further subtle nod to the building’s locomotive heritage.
After 10 years living in the area, Danny and Kieran were inspired to open the restaurant when they spotted a gap in the market for somewhere serving authentic British fare.
“We wanted to get ahead of the curve and open a really great restaurant that will be here for the next 20 years or so,” explained Kieran.
“A lot of the big restaurant chains from the West End are starting to buy up sites in this area now. You’ve got Merchants Tavern and Lyle’s down the road. There are loads of places opening around Hoxton and Shoreditch now so it’s a great spot to have a business.”
Given the area’s current reputation for attracting a predominantly young hipster crowd and lots of City workers, Kieran is proud of the diversity reflected in Beagle’s clientele: “We’ve never tried to be exclusive to a young audience.
“We’re just as likely to get a couple in their 60s having an anniversary dinner as we are a group of guys in their late 20s in for a couple of beers after work. We get all walks of life, all sorts of backgrounds and I think that’s a great reflection of the diversity of the area in general.”
Kieran cites award-winning chef Fergus Henderson of St John restaurant as a prominent inspiration. Renowned for his use of offal and unusual cuts, Henderson has championed ‘nose-to-tail’ eating – the theme of his three cook books – and many credit him with sparking a revival in British cooking.
Beagle’s own head chef James Ferguson has connections to Henderson, having formerly worked at Rochelle Canteen, owned by Henderson’s wife Margot.
At Beagle, Ferguson has developed a quintessentially British and produce-driven menu that changes daily. The style is hearty seasonal fare, much of it roasted over flaming wood and charcoal.
Kieran says: “James’s style of buying whole animals, doing all his own butchery and using every part of the animal takes a very special type of chef. It’s very labour-intensive but it’s rewarding at the end of the day.
“We smoke all our own bacon here and do all our own charcuterie. We make a lot of pickles. Even the biscuits that you eat with your cheese are made in-house.”
British beers and wines are served up alongside quirky and original cocktails, also inspired by British ingredients, and they have an impressive Bloody Mary menu.
According to culinary folklore it is impossible to eat a quail every day for a month. However, Beagle’s crispy fowl, cheerfully spatchcocked, marinated in a harmonious blend of garlic, lemon, thyme and olive oil then sizzled over flaming coals and paired with an unctuous smoked aioli, could surely compel even the most ardent sceptic to eat nothing but the winged delicacy for well over a month. Give it a try.
Mains start from £14.50.
For more details and bookings, visit http://www.beaglelondon.co.uk/