It’s a windy Wednesday evening, and the Beast From The East is raining merry hell upon the London transport system. I’ve just been evacuated from Oxford Circus and I’ve nearly slipped and died three times trying to get down Regent Street in inappropriate footwear. But it’s fine, everything is fine, because when this city descends into chaos, its citizens always know what to do - grab a pint and wait until it blows over, and Heddon Street’s Tank & Paddle is my sanctuary for the evening.
Venue and Atmosphere
Set back from Regent Street’s main strip amongst a collective of restaurants and cafes, the beer and pizza franchise is the third in London, with sister locations in Minster Court and Bishopsgate. Pulling in a primarily post-work crowd, the bar is buzzing with those who have also trekked across the frozen wasteland in search of a refreshing pint.
Despite the fact my friend and I came here with the objective of slurping some beers, chowing some slices and talking at great length about our feelings, it’s clear from the piles of board games, and the groups battling it out on the shuffleboard, that Tank & Paddle is a place for fun. So we take a raincheck on the angst and grab a game that refers to itself as, “An adult party game for meme-lovers” - if there’s a more beautiful combination of words I’m yet to find it.
There’s a lot of cheering and shouting from the guys at the table behind us who are in the process of completing the infamous Dude vs Dough challenge. The aim of the game is to scarf down almost a metre of pizza and a gut-busting side of mac’n’cheese in just fifteen minutes. With lots of egging on from the staff, it’s an amusingly revolting quarter-of-an-hour, but boy does it make for some knuckle-clenching entertainment.
Food and Drink
While pizza and beer is an undeniably widespread combination, Tank & Paddle still manage to find their own unique spin on it. We watch our pizzas getting handmade and stonebaked in the restaurant’s open kitchen. Served on big wooden paddles, you can opt for either a regular human-sized pizza, or go all out on a full yard of the stuff to share.
I’ve ordered the the Chick Flick (£9.50) which comes with a hefty covering of moist, lightly spiced cajun chicken, sweet peppadew peppers, spinach and red onion. My companion orders the Veg Your Bets (£8.50), which comes topped with sun-dried tomatoes, Gordal olives, artichokes and mushrooms. Their bases are thin and crisp with a perfect ratio of sauce to cheese. We’ve also sprung for a side order of the Manifest Mac (£7), that transpires to be so creamy and moorish that to leave even a morsel would feel blasphemous; so we finish the whole thing.
The house beers at Tank & Paddle are the work of partner brewery Meantime. The Meantime Brewery Fresh will set you back £5.50, but it really is one of the freshest pints you’ll get down your gullet. The Meantime Yakima Red Ale (£5.65) offers an interesting change from your standard lager or pale ale. Coming in a very attractive mahogany red, it’s hoppy with a citrus freshness and a bittersweet finish. The bar also offers a changing line up of guest beers, with Beavertown Lupuloid and Magic Rock’s High Wire pale ale being notable additions to the specials board on this particular tap rotation.
Whether it’s snowstorms, after work drinks, a review that was organised and confirmed weeks in advance, or even a first date, there are a million reasons to stumble into the latest Tank & Paddle venue. From bright and bubbly staff to shuffleboard and eating challenges, this place is literally all fun and games. And pizza. Really, really good pizza.