Broadway Market has got to be one of my favourite spots in East London, and The Cat and Mutton acts as a welcoming beacon in this busy and characterful area. We headed down on an unseasonably warm March evening, to check out the interesting cocktail list, craft beers and gastropub menu on offer.
With over 300 years of history, the pub definitely has a traditional feel about it. The venue overlooks both Broadway Market and London Fields and is spread over two floors, connected by an antique-style spiral staircase. It's this sort of vintage, old decor that helps to give the venue its charm. Clashing with the sophisticated cocktails and contemporary dishes on offer (don't worry, we'll get there soon), my eyes were skirting all over the place at the many quirky features when we first stepped in.
The exteriors of the venue are in-keeping with the style of many other pre-Victorian London pubs, but have been purposely restored to cling onto the building's heritage. The bright glow of the lights shines out through the latticed windows and punters spill out onto the street, clutching pint glasses and talking about the latest quinoa pop-up they vistied. Inside, that old-new clash is heightened by the high ceilings, dark wood panelling and mix of modern and traditional artwork mounted on the exposed brick walls. Trust me, the Cat and Mutton has no problem standing out.
The Food & Drinks
Now, don't be mistaken - The Cat and Mutton is definitely a pub, not a cocktail bar. And yet the cocktails were outstanding - far surpassing many fancier spots in Soho and Shoreditch. A couple of my favourites were the Lavender Clover Club (£7.50), which was a refreshing and fruity infusion of lavender, lemon, raspberry and gin, topped with egg white, and The Grape Gatsby (£7.50) - another pleasing gin-based concoction, aptly named after F. Scott Fitzgerald's decadent character. I could go on - the Lemon Thyme, Gamma-roni and C&M Espresso Martini are all worth a mention - but when there are cocktails like these on offer, you can easily overlook the traditional pub options of craft beers and ales. I will definitely be returning for Friday night cocktails soon.
Their small plates looked great - and so we began with a selection including the pork belly (£6.50) cooked in a sticky, moreish sauce infused with kimchi and red chilli. The pork was crisp and each mouthful perfectly balances a great combination of fresh flavours. Similarly, I was a big fan of their aubergine small plate (£6.50), which came coated in a sweet miso glaze and proved to be a really moreish appetiser, as was the subtly spicy sausages with harissa (£6) dish.
Next, we tried the sea bass with lobster bisque, fregola and samphire (£16.50) and the chicken puff pastry pie (£12). The chicken pie, a pub classic, was served with crispy puff pastry and sesame tossed broccoli. The sea bass was well cooked and the bisque had some interesting flavours that complimented each other well; there just needed to be a little more liquid to avoid it being almost completely soaked up by the bed of fregola. We finished by sampling their Cheese Board (£7.50), all the while watching slightly drunk revellers cross the road, run through the doors and share over-enthusiast embraces with their mates who were already sat around the bar. Like I said, it's a warm, friendly spot.
On a Friday night, The Cat and Mutton was appropriately full. With DJ sets and live music kicking off at 9PM, this is no quiet pub come the evening. The venue is filled with a young, East London crowd - locals, after-work punters, friends and couples, all beginning their weekend in an easy-going way. It’s busy and there were times when it took a little while for our orders to arrive, but otherwise the team is friendly, the crowd is chilled and the laughter-heavy atmosphere's infectious.
Good food, great cocktails and a beautiful, chilled out vibe. What’s not to like? If you’re looking for a great East London pub that offers something a little different and blends tradition and elegance with a fresh approach, then look no further - you’ve found it in The Cat and Mutton.