Review: The Beer Engine
The Beer Engine is a little off the beaten track sandwiched between Waitrose, a petrol station and London Road. It’s somewhere you have to know about as you may not necessarily pass by on your normal commute. Some of you may have known it when it was Delaney’s music bar, now it has a new owner, has gone back to its old name and has been refurbished to emerge as a craft beer destination which offers a regularly changing tapas menu*.
The Beer Engine is owned by Sheffielder Tom Harrington, who has most recently worked for Thornbridge brewery and has run other pubs including the Sheaf View, the Blake Hotel and the Hillsborough Hotel. The kitchen is run by chef Tom Gibson-Howarth, who previously worked for Platillos.
I like the decor of the place, it is very pleasing, from the signage and paintwork outside to the light airy and relaxed style inside. From memory, I think Delaney’s was quite dark so this is welcomed contrast. There are nice period features, iron fireplaces, wooden floors, tasteful lighting and quirky accessories. It feels comfortable, the sort of place you can come enjoy a drink on your own or come with friends after work or on a weekend for lunch.
The beer garden is a pleasant oasis, fenced with picnic tables and a scattering of mediterranean style pots, so you don’t feel like you are by a main road in town.
I have been in for tapas twice and doing my write up has been on my to do list for a while, so I now I am catching up with myself I wanted to share my experience, as the food was great on both occasions. The tapas menu is concise with enough choice to get a mix to indulge in, with classics we all know and love like patatas bravas to more unusual choices, I tried a cauliflower tabbouleh dish the last time I was in which was very tasty.
The Beer Engine – Facebook
On this occasion, we ordered 5 small plates to share, each were served as they are ready, in order this is what we had on my first visit.
For something fresh, I went for the fennel, rocket and orange salad, this was a colourful dish and the match of citrus with peppery rocket and aniseed fennel work so well together. Inspired, I have since made this a few times at home.
Chorizo is always a crowd-pleaser, cooking the sausage in halves meant the outside was lovely crispy and caramelised and then you get that deliciously satisfying rich smoky paprika flavour. This balanced well with the zestiness of the salad.
Calamari is one of my favourite tapas dishes, not one that is everyone’s taste I know, as some don’t like it’s texture. This was cooked well and was not rubbery at all, the squid was tender and the batter lightly crispy (personally, I would have liked a bit more colour). The creamy garlic mayo for dipping had a decent garlickly kick, the way I like it to keep the vampires away.
Potatas bravas were on the menu so they had to be ordered as they are a classic tapas dish. The golden cubes of potatoes were topped with pulpy tangy tomato sauce with a hint of spice in the background. Then finally, there were the sweetly crisp sweet potato and carrot fritters which made up our generously portioned lunch.
For me the appeal of the food, is all about the lack of pretentiousness, flavours are bold, presentation is rustic, the menu is well balanced and the dishes each speak for themselves.
There is of course the beer, which is the main event hence the name Beer Engine. There are regularly changing craft beers with 6 hand-pulled cask ale pumps and 4 keg lines. The choice is interesting with a mix of familiar ales – Estrella, Erdinger and some perhaps not so well known from breweries like Wales’ Tiny Rebel and London’s Brew by Numbers. So if you are looking for a good meeting place for a drink and food, that’s centrally located and reasonable priced, I would recommend trying The Beer Engine.
*For the winter months, they have introduced larger and more hearty dishes so expect more than tapas to choose from.
The Beer Engine
17 Cemetery Road