My first impression of Junkyard was 95% eye-roll, From the name (though I suppose the British equivalent "Rubbish Tip" wouldn't quite appeal on the same level.), through to the wording on their awning (which tries to tempt in "beer geeks, caffeine junkies, grazers, oenophiles, cocktail sippers and soda slurpers" all with no capital letters of course) it's very clear that in setting this place up they've worked through every single square on the 'let's try and appeal to absolutely every current trend possible all at once' bingo card. Let me also file the following as evidence - exposed brickwork, beers only being served in two thirds (PINTS? *Scoffs*), menus printed on brown kraft paper, labelling themselves as a "pour house", food menu headed as "Junkfood", sides being served in camp fire tins....i'm struggling for many more current clichés from the past few years they could have steamed into.
The first time I dropped in it was entirely for beers and on that front they entirely deliver. They have a chalk board with a range of 15 keg beers to choose from. The focus is heavily in favour of American beer, with a real focus on breweries that don't seem to appear very often elsewhere in the UK - Ruhstaller, Uncommon, North Coast and Acme featuring both times I've visited. On this front, they're at least they're offering something new and not an endless list of Brookyln and Anchor options. On this visit there was an increased showing of British breweries over imported beer (which often suffers on a freshness front due to the sheer mileage involved). Price-wise (remember the prices shown below are for 2/3's) there was only one beer cheaper than £5 a pint making them a shade expensive compared to other similar bars across the UK.
As well as the draft board, they they also offer 4 fridges that cover more US beers as well as an interesting range of UK beers (including lots of the bigger hitters: think Kernel, Bad Seed and Pressure Drop). They also offer a short cocktail menu and 20 plus wines as well as a range of coffees and teas so drinks wise we're all pretty well covered.
The food menu is based on a choice of 10+ small plates and half a dozen larger sandwich options. There is also a daily specials menu that adds a couple of starter options and just one further sandwich. Range wise it's a mix of US comfort food staples such mac and cheese, pastrami sandwiches, various fries, hot wings, short ribs etc. - there was certainly plenty from the short descriptions that sounded like they could be worth trying. I indulged in the following...
Fried Pickles - plump and juicy pickles which had been deep-fried whole. The batter was crispy and each mouthful was just so damn pickley that there must have been vinegar or pickle juice in the batter which made them incredibly enjoyable. I can never resist ordering this delicacy on any menu and the extra vinegar hit elevated them to the same level at MeatLiquor. I could easily have gobbled down a couple of dishes of these without them touching the sides, I liked the mis-shaped pieces - it gave the impression they'd not been shipped in pre-sliced ready for the frying.
Padron Peppers - for the price, this was an appropriate sized portion of grilled padron peppers. They hadn't been grilled over charcoal which often gives them that extra blistered skin and tasty smokiness but they were well seasoned and a good side to pick at around the mains.
Mac and Cheese balls with Arrabiata Sauce - the sauce was rich with a great kick of heat. The mac and cheese balls were excellent - dense and with a perfect crispy outer, they held together extremely well and didn't just crumble as I dug in,
Pastrami on Rye - This looked worryingly light on meat initially but i'm glad to report there was a good stack of salty slices tucked away beneath the bizarre choice of gem lettuce which didn't crush down due to it's weird stem, making the sandwich a little difficult to handle. The bottom layer was stuffed with pickles which had been sliced thickly so they retained the crunch. Lashings of hot English mustard and sauerkraut brought everything together well - gem lettuce aside this was about all I could ask from a pastrami butty. The small side pot of seasonal slaw had a good mix of salad but the overly sweet dressing left it too soggy for me.
The "BLGT" (one of the specials of the day) consisted of bacon, more of the unnecessary baby gem lettuce, Gorgonzola cheese and roasted tomatoes - all served up on focaccia. A mini twist (at least not one i'm familiar with) on a BLT whereby they'd melted some Gorgonzola onto the bacon. I'm sure there'll be traditionalists that would argue you shouldn't mess with a BLT but this was right up my street, adding a nice kick to the flavour. Even the gem lettuce getting in the way and serving it on Foccacia over my preferred white loaf slice couldn't ruin my fun here.Although, the sprinkling of parsnip crisps over the top was a slightly odd addition which added nothing, in fact they tasted slightly soft as if they were fried in batches early in the day before being sprinkled over sandwiches throughout the day.
This Sloppy Joe was a course that I didn't eat myself so I can't really add comment flavour wise. My friend tucked in (and thoroughly enjoyed it). It consisted of a giant hot dog, thick crunchy onion rings, pulled pork and a giant roasted pepper. Let's take a moment to admire that sprig of Rosemary.
Dessert wise, the only option was a chocolate brownie with fruit compote and vanilla ice cream aka ultimate chefs cop out. This seemed a shame as i'd have happily tucked into a sundae or something similar to close the meal but given the lack of choice we swerved it altogether.
Drinks wise, we shared a Pressure Drop Pale Fire from the bottle which was as reliable as ever and I wrapped up with an Americano which was black, strong and tasted fresh enough.
Despite all signals pointing to this being a cash in on as much trendy nonsense as possible, you can definitely consider me pleasantly surprised. It turns out I can forgive a total lack of originality (after all, "there's nothing new under the sun") for well cooked, fairly priced and quickly served food in a bar where I can get a good beer and I had a genuinely enjoyable if not life-changing lunch in Junkyard and whilst not worth a special trip, I would definitely go back.
As a quick aside, I enjoy that when you click the link to their twitter on the website it takes you to "http://www.twitter.com/junkarydnotts" and then when you re-word it yourself to "junkyardnotts" yourself they only follow 5 people and have an image of the default egg. Then you search some more and figure out it's actually on there under "Junkyard Poho" @jydpoho. It's 2014, come on fellas - this shouldn't have to take detective work.