Who are they?
The Temple Brewhouse is a lovely basement bar that not only serves a ton of beer and has a great bar menu but also has its very own brewery on site. Sitting on the site of a former German-styled gastube / bierkeller on a side street opposite the Royal Courts of Justice, you would be forgiven for thinking that, on first glance, this was just another pub. And so, when looking for the same German bar I remember going to when I used to work on Fleet Street to set up a meeting with long time collaborator Mr Hazeel, I decided that this place would make for an excellent substitute; because damn it, the Thoroughly Nice Burger Blog has never been for a burger in a brewery before.
A typical Wednesday evening during the summer in London town brings plenty of people out to enjoy a beer or two and even at around 7pm, the downstairs bar was half full. Snagging a comfy booth, we remarked that the decor has more akin with a trendy Hoxton bar than a little pub tucked away in a side street of the Fleet Street area. Not that I was complaining; the bar has a full compliment of lagers, ales and ciders on a set of front pumps and a rotating selection of craft beers and ciders behind the bar - also draft - and if that wasn't enough, then there's a healthy compliment of bottled and canned beers as well. It's basically a slice of beery heaven that also serves food. Don't believe me? Check out their interactive thing on Google Maps!
Speaking of food, the Temple's menu is a comprehensive a look at decent bar food and larger bites as anything out there - handily separated into small plates and big plates. The establishment actually features two burgers; a classic char-grilled bacon burger with coleslaw and chips (not fries) or the intimidating Stack: a steak patty paired with smoked brisket, smoked cheese, maple bacon & onion rings. Not willing to suffer the larger of the two, we opted for the lesser bacon burger together with some of their hot chicken wings after chatting with a barman and being intrigued by how he had described them.
In the meantime, we tried a couple of side dishes to see what they could do; the Szechuan squid and the onion rings, both of which came in plentiful amounts in these rather fetching steel basins and made for a lovely crispy pair of entrees - not too dry yet not too soggy, as is the case for the fare you get in most pubs, though surprisingly it did need a little salt to add to the flavour and was at best a minor inconvenience. This also gave plenty of opportunity to try a selection of 3 1/3 pints and try out some of the craft beer selection: lovely!
No sooner had we finished off the squid than the burgers arrived, a plate with a slightly charred patty and very crispy bacon slice atop some lettuce and tomato, whilst the the top of the bun had been left off to allow easy access for whatever condiment you might need. Accompanied by a healthy portion of crispy coleslaw with home made mayonnaise and a bucket of well-fried chips, it only leaves me to wonder exactly how large the Stack would be in comparison. Adding the coleslaw to the ensemble and packing it down with brioche, the burger would come at a perfect moment in the evening to start soaking up the beer, which it did in fine fashion. The char-grilled (to the point of it being crispy on the edges) patty leaves a lovely smokey aftertaste to what is a decent piece of beef to start with and while the same is true of the crispy bacon, mine was perhaps a little too carbonised and was difficult to break off in large pieces. This is not a huge oversight however, as the lettuce and coleslaw freshened things off nicely with each bite and altogether provided a much larger burger than I was expecting. Perhaps the only thing that was slightly underwhelming were the accompanying chips, which were fairly small in size and number when compared to the amazing side dishes we had had earlier.
Speaking of side dishes, the chicken wings do deserve greater praise. Glazed in a sweet stout dressing with habanero and scotch bonnet, these make for sweet yet with only a slightly tingly heat on a roasted chicken akin to the traditional British Sunday sort. Heat-wise, they are certainly not the hottest, but it is not the intention to blow your socks off. It's very different to the standard American hot wings and aside from tasting great are a lovely change from the same battered and fried hot wings smothered in sauce that you can find everywhere. As with the battered squid and onion rings, they come in a large steel tin that is perfect for sharing - perhaps there's actually more than you might need for just one person and if we weren't eating a big plates we could quite happily have a selection of these to enjoy the cricket showing on the projector screen.
It's times like this that I think vegetarians have made rather bad life decisions. Perhaps the only thing they can do to discredit this establishment is that the side dishes and beers are more expensive than usual - even for a London pub. But what you do get is an altogether more decadent place to go for pub grub that actually delivers solid food and none of the stupid pretentiousness that is common around Fleet Street and Temple. Not sure when we'll get back to attempt the stack, but it's always good to have an excuse to return!
Where can I find them?
A 2 minute walk from Temple underground station (District & Circle Lines)