Head down a Dalston lane (next to the McDonalds), and sidle past what once was the entrance to the now converted parking lot, and you’ll find The Bootyard: an oasis of delicious food and drink. A trio of venues await, but two hold a particularly intertwined relationship: 40FT Brewery and Acme Fire Cult. With both places focusing on modern approaches to traditional arts – brewing and BBQ – the matchup makes perfect sense. Furthering the interplay between the two, Acme Fire Cult uses the by-products of 40FT’s brewing in their dishes, and 40FT uses some of Acme’s favourite ingredients (such as ancho chillies) in their beers. The result is absolutely delicious beer from one place, and genuinely mind-blowing food from the other.
40FT Brewery and Taproom
If you’ve ever been in East London, you’ve probably heard of 40FT Brewery, if not already visited the taproom. And if you haven’t heard of them, there’s a strong chance you’ve glimpsed one of their tap badges or cans out of the corner of your eye at a local pub or bar. Perhaps you’ve even seen them featured on such menus as that of the illustrious St. JOHN Restaurant. Either way, they’re slowly becoming an almost omnipresent brewery in East London, popping up in some of the most unexpected places.
The brewery started out in two 20ft shipping containers, slowly adding on shipping containers like massive LEGO pieces as demand for their beer increased. Billing themselves as “Dalston’s neighbourhood brewery,” they liken their taproom to a friend’s living room (in atmosphere, not appearance!). Furthering their commitment to the local area, they invest in the community and the people around them. In their award-winning taproom, you can choose from ten taps of fresh beer, served just steps from where it’s brewed, alongside a selection of natural wines, cider, and ready-to-drink cocktails.
Their partnership with Acme Fire Cult means they also offer up punters at their taproom a limited menu of small plates and flatbreads from the restaurant. But for a proper taste of Acme Fire Cult’s food, you’ll have to cross over from the taproom to the restaurant itself, where a whole different menu and experience awaits.
Acme Fire Cult
Directly opposite the taproom for 40FT, approximately 1 and a half steps away, is Acme Fire Cult’s restaurant. They offer up a vegetable-forward – but still plenty meaty – menu of seasonal and low-waste grilled food from an outdoor charcoal grill that wafts delicious smells through the air from open to close. A carefully curated drinks menu includes plenty of fresh 40FT beers, a short but sweet wine selection from Holly Willcocks (ex Noble Rot and co-founder of Half Cut Market, Camden), and unique and delicious cocktails and softs.
When you dine at Acme Fire Cult, it’s impossible to go wrong. The drinks menu is chock-full of hits – from the earthy and unexpected beetroot-containing Sacrificial Sour cocktail, to the ancho chilli-infused Acme Dark Lager. At the start of your meal, you absolutely have to order the dish that brings together all of the venues in the area in one plate. Sourdough from neighbouring bakery, Dusty Knuckle, is topped with “marmite” butter made at Acme from 40FT’s brewing by-products, and generous shavings of pecorino. It’s rich, hearty, salty, bitter, and could easily convert marmite-haters – but only to this marmite.
The care that Acme Fire Cult takes with their vegetables means that the veggie dishes are ridiculously delicious. The Char Siu Beetroots with fennel pollen and mojo verde mines the earthy produce for a complex flavour that most aren’t able to bring out, but they do with ease. Another absolute must-order is the Coal Roast Leeks with pistachio romesco that reinvents the flavour profile of the vegetable completely. My companion described it as “one of the best dishes I’ve ever had“. Had we not been about to gorge ourselves on silly amounts of meat, we would have re-ordered it at least three more times.
Sunday roasts at Acme
The latest addition to the menu at Acme Fire Cult is their sharing Sunday roast option, which is perfect for lazy Sunday meals with friends and family. The meal kicks off with a choice of small plates, such as the above-mentioned Char Siu Beetroots and Coal Roast Leeks, before they offer up a sharing platter absolutely piled high with grilled and smoked meats. The mountain of meats comprises Vadouvan Chicken Thigh Skewers, Tamworth Pork Belly, Highland Beef Rump, and Smoked Cotechino Sausage served with pickles, hot sauce, and a dill-forward salsa.
With so much meat, you may think the gluttony ends there – but you’d be wrong. The truly naughty portion of the platter hides underneath it all – a piece of toasted sourdough becomes engorged with the juices and drippings from everything piled up on top of it. It is one of the best, dripping wet, absolutely filthy rich, pieces of bread you will ever eat in your life.
For veggies, or those who simply aren’t in the mood for a mountain of meat (which, I guess, sure, is sometimes a thing), you’re still covered. They also offer up a Sunday exclusive of Smoked Delica Pumpkin with fig, chilli and hazelnut – furthering their reputation for caring just as much (if not more) about their veg dishes.
Whether you’re a beer nerd or a cocktail fan, a carnivore or a veggie lover, or all of the above, a visit to 40FT Brewery and Acme Fire Cult should definitely be on the cards.