The Draft House itself is not only a 'proper pub', but the range of beers on sale is one of the most impressive I've seen a pub carry and that's to be applauded. The dining area itself is through the bar and represents a change of style as the normal pub surrounds give way to bright green diner style booths; it's a momentary shock to the senses but once we had overcome the dazzle of bright green leather, we found it a reasonably playful affair.
The menu too fits in with the decor with a bias toward an Americana meat-fest. Following on the heels of the earlier-in-the-week expedition to Mayfair's The Punchbowl which sought, but ultimately failed to deliver a step up from the usual pub fare, the somewhat simpler menu here offered reassurance that good pub food would be what you would get.
Between the two of us we decided to share three starter plates that on the menu are billed as such (sharing plates). First up, 'foot long pork scratchings'. They arrive at the table like bread-sticks but are old style pork scratchings (not the new style lighter than air pork crackling that is served as a pre meal snack at places like Pollen Street Social and Tuddenham Mill); here, the crunch penetrates your very skull. Very salty, a lot of fun and just about there on taste, the silliness of foot long scratchings at least puts a smile on your face to start the meal.
We also share a half rack of BBQ baby back ribs which arrives smothered in a dark BBQ sauce. The ribs are pretty good, the meat falling easily off the bone. We both agree however that it is the sauce that's doing the heavy lifting on flavour here rather than the meat itself though fortunately, we both like the sauce and think this is a pretty good plate even if a little messy (a finger bowl is provided, but only one, despite being ordered as a sharing plate).
Finally on the starter sharing plates, it was 'Southern fried wingettes'. Wingettes are in fact just regular wings with the wingette tag a mystery to all including staff. These ultimately failed for us, the southern fried coating adding a little crunch but little flavour and seeming a poor relation to more complete and more complex fried chicken served up elsewhere.
Sadly this was not so good. On ordering, we weren't asked how we wanted the burgers cooked, and when they arrived, mine was very well done. The char on the outside had transitioned to crispy and with everything so well cooked, there was no natural juice left in the burger such that eating it increasingly became a chore. The bun too had been overly toasted rendering it tough rather than yielding. The egg and hollandaise provided some relief but the burger itself was too dry for redemption. The twice cooked chips meanwhile had been undercooked leaving neither the outside very crispy or the inside that fluffy, bringing only to mind raw potato; less than a handful were eaten. The Smoke burger was a little better cooked but the cheese was plastic-like sitting on top of the burger rather than melting in to it.
Other people have we know fared better when it comes to their meal here and I can easily see that with only a few small changes, this could indeed be so much better; maybe it's just a consistency problem but you can't cook a burger this much and expect it to be good. Given the proximity of Goodman in the City where truly great burgers are served, and places like MEATliquor where both wings and burgers are a triumph, The Draft House fell short of the mark. We wanted to love it, for great burgers on our doorstep would be a god-send, but sadly we didn't.
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