‘This isn’t ordinary barbecue’: Acme Fire Cult team up with 40ft Brewery for big flavours and beers in Dalston

This isn’t an ordinary barbecue - chefs Andrew Clarke and Daniel Watkins incorporate flavours, fermenting and grilling techniques to create some seriously good food, where vegetables take centre stage.

Deriving from the Greek word akmē (the point at which something is at its best or most highly developed), Acme Fire Cult began in the spring of 2021 after Andrew Clarke and Daniel Watkins’ successful summer residency at London Fields Courtyard in Hackney.

The Courtyard at Acme Fire Cult.

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Located in Abbot Street, few minutes away from Dalston Junction and Dalston Kingsland Overground stations, the smell of that delicious food being cooked on fire guides most hungry eaters straight to the large covered terrace where diners can watch the chefs and their team at work.

This isn’t an ordinary barbecue; chefs Andrew and Daniel incorporate flavours, fermenting and grilling techniques to create some seriously good food.

Hard at work- Chefs Daniel Watkins and Andrew Clarke

Sustainability lies in the heart of their work as the meat is from a rare and native breed from regenerative farms such as Lyon Hill Farm and Swaledale Butchers.

The fish is sourced from environmentally friendly suppliers such as Fin & Flounder and Bethnal Green Fish.

The chefs also showcase their skills and knowledge from across the globe that is evident in their fermentation and grilling techniques, as well as their generous usage of chilli and spices.

The menu is seasonal and is constantly evolving, but one can expect a selection of grilled flat breads accompanied by incredible vegetarian and vegan dishes such as coal roasted celeriac, mushroom-kelp XO, coco bean miso and salsa verde made with foraged mushrooms and seaweed; grilled leeks & pistachio romesco, along with the likes of beetroot with a sweet & sour dill dressing, beetroot purée, pickled blueberries and sorrel.

There are also other innovative plates such as Dorset crab, bone marrow, jalapeno verde and salted cabbage; smoked short rib with mustard greens, herb fed chicken with vadouvan butter, onion and crème fraiche and a favourite from their London Fields Courtyard days, such as a ‘Char Siu’ of monkfish, which uses a sweet and sour molasses.

Seasonal food at Acme Fire Cult accompanied by beer at 40FT Brewery.

Their menu is also low waste using beer brewing by-products to make ferments and sauces, such as the Acme ‘Marmite’ that’s made from leftover beer yeast; the Ancho hot sauce that’s made with beer soaked chillies and beer molasses made by reducing down the ‘first runnings’ that can be drizzled on desserts.

Spent grain is used for fermenting dish ingredients such as nukazuke pickles and even to make dog biscuits.

On the idea and collaboration, Andrew said: “Steve Ryan and I have been friends for a long time and I’ve previously cooked at the brewery as a guest chef.

The Trio - Steve Ryan with chefs Andrew Clarke and Daniel Watkins

“Daniel and I had been looking for a space for Acme in Hackney, and when the space at the yard facing 40ft came up, we had to seize it.

“The potential for the space is huge, and we want special events and guest chef dinners to become a big part of the offering.

“We’re really excited to be working with Steve and 40ft.

“The synergy of the beer brewing process and menu creation is central to what we’re doing at Acme and encompasses all aspects of the menu. We can’t wait for people to try it.”

Chefs Andrew Clarke and Daniel Watkins at Acme Fire Cult

The restaurant has 10 beer taps pouring fresh beers brewed on site that are paired with dishes.

Special edition beers are brewed each month by 40ft to accompany the menu and the staff also gladly give their recommendations.

Steve Ryan, Founder of 40ft Brewery told London World: “Our first collaboration beer brewed with Acme Fire Cult and is available only at the restaurant and brewery taproom. Acme Dark is a black lager with toasted malt flavours to accompany the BBQ and a hint of chilli to acknowledge Acme’s love of chillies. 

“Brewed with chocolate and black malt and with 1kg of ancho chillies and is soaked for 18 hours to give this beer a bit of heat.”

Beers at 40FT Brewery

In addition to the beers on site, there is a nice little wine list from Holly Willcocks - formerly with Noble Rot and now the co-founder of Half Cut Market in Camden.

There is also a cocktail menu to pair with the food with classic negronis and margaritas and beer based cocktails like their Michelada built on the Acme Dark Lager with Acme hot sauce and fresh lime.

Acme Fire Cult’s plant-based sauces and condiments are also available for sale at the Dalston yard and online, along with a range of merchandise such as t-shirts and branded hardware.