Mare Street: ‘Come for the bar, stay for the barbecue delights’
The scrabble for the sun has begun.
Londoners starved of warmth stagger out from the dark interiors of pubs like zombies growling in the harsh rays.
But sometimes the option of slowly swaying into inebriation outside your local while dodging Deliveroo drivers isn’t so appealing.
You are an adult, damn it. You want a seat, and even perhaps some food! Well, dear reader, you are certainly not asking too much.
Back I trot to Mare Street, apparently the only stretch of the city worth it’s salt for new openings.
After skirting around an ominous-looking industrial brewery – encountering confusion involving two differently painted green gates (it’s the second one if that helps) – we turn the corner and there she blows.
A courtyard, done up with every trapping a sun-seeking alcoholic could want. Railway arches open to the sky on each side, while semi-covered transparent wedding tents and many heaters give way to a circle of benches of varying sizes.
Two outside bars, one inside one, a cocktail cart, two food trucks, and it’s dog-friendly to boot – it’s enough to bring a tear to one’s eye.
As its 7pm when we arrive, the sun is winking its tired eye, yet daggers of light still stab across the sweeping space. The overground trundles high above our heads, and down we plop in an atmosphere that builds from jubilant to outright raucous in about three hours flat.
Brewery Five Points provides the booze (shockingly) and a walk to the toilet will take you on a journey both visual and olfactory. As you wind through the many silver tankards, they hiss and perfume the air with their fermenting fumes.
‘Does it improve the flavour of the hooch on tap?’ I ask my well-bearded friend. Apparently, it does. Always trust a beard when it comes to beer.
My lager is an unthreateningly pink-branded drink, as fresh as if it has been crafted locally, which of course it has. Prosecco and Aperol flows like the Nile along with a range of tin-based cocktails by Pamela’s Bar.
Through the crowd of silver-ringed, designer-hoodie-clad guests, dishes zip around to be claimed by the quickest hand (the joy/curse of a press night). The trucks throw them out in waves and at impressive speed. Feeding the 5,000 but in East London.
From The Ashes (slow-cooked meaties) and Anoosh (Middle Eastern tacos) are the stomach-liners for all that beer and sunstroke, and do so very well.
Glacially slow-flamed beef in a bouncing brioche bun crush in your hands. The whole affair travels down your gullet with globules of chilli mayo staining your cheeks. Flecks of pickles blend with the liberal sauce and bovine to create maybe the perfect drunk sandwich. Not a first date choice but a dish to shove into one’s face in front of close friends or family.
Chips are twice fired, but the real highlight is the smoked short rib on flatbread, with shavings of pickled cucumbers that give a tart tang. Barbecue sweetness swoops in, treading the whole portion along a tightrope of flavour.
The falafel taco is a little solid for my taste, but the gochujang tahini saves it, with a hot high kick to every mouthful.
Between the trucks, they offer a range of nibbles. Flatbreads with beef fat or Za’Atar. Lamb, harissa chicken, halloumi, or steak tacos are also available along with the falafel.
Grilled pepper for the vegans (lucky them) and smoked cauliflower, which perplexingly is only vegetarian.
A platter of short ribs will put you back £20 but also set you up as the bravest of drunk diners. Nachos and some rather interesting side salads expand the offering a little. But it’s mainly meat, and the things that wrap it or it rests on.
Everything else is around (or just over) £10, which, after four incandescent pints, won’t seem so bad when you look down at the undeniably small dish before you.
Halloumi fries pass us by in the chaos and our neighbours look like a group not to be battled with over the last plate of mournfully gorgeous-looking carbs.
As the night cools and we are corralled into the odd little bar overlooking the barrels of bubbling barley, my slightly addled brain ruminates on the venture.
Vineyard tours are touted as not just day drinking in situ but a cultural and elevated experience. Why then could this new courtyard-cum-brewery not be the same?
This winning combination seems to have pulled half of the borough in, and will likely do so throughout the summer.
Come for the bar and the sun, stay for the slow-roasted barbecue delights.
Book a table before the sun-runs fivepointscourtyard.com.