We got off on the wrong foot, 10 Greek Street and I. A few weeks ago I foolishly attempted to get a table there at about 9.30 on a Saturday evening only to be greeted by spectacularly stressed-looking staff who basically laughed at our request for a table for 2. Fine, we’ll take our business elsewhere, then. Ended up in the perfectly lovely (but expensive) Duck Soup down the road.
Two weeks later and we find ourselves in Soho on a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon. For anyone who is into restaurants, this is a great time. A sunny Saturday in Soho (sorry) means you can usually get a table at one of the dead cool places you’d have an hours wait for in the evening. Soho is now so well-stocked with great, affordable places to eat that you can walk from street to street browsing each place until you come across something you fancy. On a Saturday lunchtime, you can simply walk in and get a table, just the way it should be. On this particular Saturday the only place with a small queue was Honest Burgers, and that’s because it’s so tiny.
We ambled around trying to make our choice. We even started to walk into Quo Vadis until I remembered we hadn’t checked out 10 Greek Street yet. Despite being given short shrift last time, I’d heard so many good things about it I was pretty keen to try it out. On arriving, everything fell in to place. The menu looked great, the sun was out and there was a perfect table right by the window for us. Done.
Inside was the polar opposite of our brief visit on that Saturday evening. The atmosphere was one of sun-drenched calm. The staff fluttered about efficiently, people quietly enjoying their lunches over low chatter. The interior is a perfect example of how to do an interesting, simple design asthetic. 1950s Danish-style chairs, formica table-tops with clever little sunken troughs for cutlery/menus etc and lots of white. Uncluttered and attractive.
Lunch began with a pair of excellently made cocktails: a Bramble and a blood-orange Aperol Spritz. TRENDWATCH - pretty much every menu we browsed that day in Soho had at least one dish featuring blood-orange. Yes, I know it’s in season, but still. They brought over some tap water and a small bowl of delicious bread. I particularly loved the focaccia.
The menu at 10 Greek Strete is mainly Italian with a few Spanish influences. It’s fairly short with maybe 5 starters, 5 mains and a selection of small plates. We were in a small-plate mood (a risky proposition in Soho theses days - pay a lot, leave hungry) so we dived in. First to arrive was a huge plate of padron peppers, salted and baked in oil. Simple and delicious. Mrs MBFBY? said “these are the most pepper-tasting peppers I’ve ever had”. Spot on, my love.
Next was the bruschetta with wild mushroom, buratta and rocket. Feel free to leave abusive comments for my use of the following term - it was ‘gloriously rustic’. A union of well-chosen ingredients and again, a generous portion. Alongside this we had an excellent (and plentiful) charcuterie of outrageously good quality meats.
Just as we’d polished off all this, the next dishes arrived. Mackerel with beetroot and horseradish - again an wonderfully unfussy combination of great ingredients. Prawns, watercress and saffron mayonnaise - huge juicy prawns cooked in a rich, spicy oil with a rather wonderful mayo on the side.
The whole experience was just blissful. Every mouthful of food was amazingly tasty, and the sun busting through the windows onto the white walls gave the room a lazy glow. The best bit? The bill came to 58 quid for 5 generous dishes and 2 cocktails each, and we left satisfied. When we went to Duck Soup the bill was about 90 quid and I was still hungry. Same last time I went to Polpo.
Apart from the misfire on my first attempt to eat there I cant fault 10 Greek St on any level. Wonderful service in an attractive environment and a simple menu comprised of carefully chosen ingredients prepared with deft skill. All this for a fair price. It doesn’t really get any better, does it?
10 Greek Street
erm… 10 Greek St
‘GUSH’, they all went. ‘WOW’, they cried. ‘OMG NOM’ said the Internet. All of a sudden everyone was an expert on Japanese noodle soup. RAMANIA. What do the hep cats eat in between bouts of anorexia? Ramen, apparently. Spearheading RAMANIA is Bone Daddies, in a corner of Soho that only a few years ago was know as ‘that dirty bit near Somerfield’, but has now become so outrageously hip there’s a comic shop, a fixed-gear bike shop and (through an act of abject heresy) legendary metal pub the Intrepid Fox is now a branch of Byron.
It doesn’t take much to get a queue forming outside a Soho restaurant these days. A few blog posts overusing the word ‘dirty’, a chef from Nobu and boom - 50 minute queue for a 20 minute meal. For this reason I’ve only just got round to to trying Bone Daddies. I’ve tried to go a few times, each time the wait was around an hour. This time however I was alone, and it was 10pm on a Wednesday night so I walked right in.
Inside is looks a bit like a downmaket version of Wagamamas. Large prints of Japanese rockabilly dancers adorn the walls, it’s dark, rock music is blasting and the seating is high stools on communal tables. It’s not a place to linger. Service was friendly and efficient but they seemed stretched - my table was pretty greasy.
I ordered the fried chicken and a bowl of the tonkotsu I’ve heard so much about. The fried chicken was mediocre. Small chunks of chicken, under-seasoned batter and served with nothing but a lemon on the side, it was lacking in flavour. Could really do with some kind of dipping sauce. That it’s become acceptable to charge £5 for a small cup of fried chicken suggests somewhere in the last few years we’ve lost some perspective. Compare that for what you get when you order £5 worth of chicken from Meatliquor or Patty & Bun and the Bone Daddies offering seems pretty weak.
Still, it’s really all about the ramen here. Mine arrived and it looked impressive, complete with a boiled egg which had a wonderful orange yolk. You can probably guess what coming next though - I was underwhelmed. With all the ridiculous hype, maybe there was no way the tonkotsu could live up to expectations. Don’t get me wrong, it was pretty tasty noodle soup but I thought it would be richer and more complex. The bones are boiled for 20 hours, I was expecting my mind to be blown. There was a bit of pork in there too but to be it seemed like there should be more meat in there. The noodles were fine. Again, for 11 quid it didn’t seem like great value. I’ve never been to Japan so can’t comment on authenticity. However, I am going there later this month so stay tuned for tedious comments along the lines of ’well of course it’s never going to be as good as the red lantern places in Tokyo, yah?’
I think Bone Daddies is a victim of it’s own success - it maybe could never meet my absurdly high expectations (though some places manage to), maybe visiting so late the kitchen was overstretched (the staff certainly seemed to be). In need of a quick meal after a gig it was perfect as I was in and out in 20 mins, but I’m damned if I’m queuing for 45 mins for it. I’ll return as there’s some interesting things on the menu (especially the cocktails and the Japanese whiskies) but take my advice - go off peak or risk being disappointed.
31 Peter Street
Here at MBFBY? I don’t usually use the blog to plug stuff, but I’ll make an exception in this case as the thing I’m plugging is a food festival on my doorstep in Surbiton. Also, the food festival has been organised in my beloved local boozer The Lamb, so this is not exactly a cynical product endorsement written in exchange for some free cheese. However if anyone does want to send me some free cheese for any reason, that’s fine. I won’t write about it, though. Unless it’s Comté or Snowdonia. Or smoked Lancashire. Or Cornish Quartz. Or Epoisses. OK, enough waffle, i’ll get on with it.
The inaugural Surbiton Food Festival has come about because a group of local volunteers from a variety of backgrounds have gotten together down the pub and decided that Surbiton’s food culture is worthy of celebration.
The festival isn’t about celebrity chefs and big-name restaurants (though one is involved, step forward The French Table ), it’s about bringing together the community and opening up a dialog about what we eat and where it’s from, whilst also reminding people of what wonderful foodie businesses exist on our doorstep. It’s also about touting the culinary wonders of Surbiton to people further afield (we’re only 15 mins out of Waterloo, you know).
There will be a special Surbiton Food Festival passport available containing offers, deals and freebies from local retailers and restaurants, and a slew of events, competitions and general food-related stupidity. I believe there’s even an ‘oldest product you have in your store cupboard’ contest. Also being produced alongside the festival is a recipe book and an illustrated story book telling the well-known folk tale of the mythical Seething pasty.
Key events include:
- 4th May: The Big Food Fight - a rotton tomato fight to highlight issues surrounding food waste
- 5th May: The Seething Freshwater Sardine Festival - A celebration of the history of freshwater sardine fishing on the Thames which is DEFINITELY not made up.
- 11th/12th May: The Village Fete and Night Market
- 18th May: Surbiton Sports Day and Picnic
- 19th May: Food Festival Brunch
You can follow developments here:
Hope to see you there. I’ll be the drunk bloke eating all the cheese, clutching a jar of Chinese Five Spice from 1997. Oh, and anyone caught mentioning the Good Life at Surbiton Food Festival will be strung up, cured and served on a charcuterie platter with delicious home-made pickles.
If there’s one thing I like, it’s going out for dinner and not having to pay the bill. Not in a ‘I was invited to review this restaurant because I’m a freeloading blogger of low moral fibre’ kind of way, in a ‘someone nice taking you out for dinner’ sort of way. When my opera-loving mother-in-law said she was going to be in town and suggested dinner somewhere near the Royal Opera House, Mishkins wasn’t going to cut it. The staff all look like pirates. The Delaunay sprang to mind as the sort of classy joint appropriate for distinguished professor of musicology. Not that I’m trying to score brownie points here, you understand. Did I mention how the process of ageing has been so kind to my mother-in-law?
The Delaunay is the sort of place that oozes with grandeur and class. I could see it being quite an intimidating place to turn up - there’s a doorman, a front desk and a glittering dining room beyond. The sort of place where a man of my calibre might expect to be thrown out at any time. Thankfully, they didn’t manage to suss me out this time. I was told my table would be ready shortly, and shown to the bar.
Fully slipping into the atmosphere I leant at the bar and ordered a Manhattan. The barman asked if I preferred it on the rocks and whether I’d like it dry or slightly sweet. The chap knew what he was doing - it was a great Manhattan. As I stood at the bar with my cocktail I imagined I looked like the very vision of class. I actually looked like a slightly oafish Northerner stood at a bar on his own, playing Letterpress on his iPhone.
In between turns of Letterpress I did a spot of people watching. As with all Corbin and King establishments, it attracts a certain type of person. The Wolseley, for example, is the first place I’ve seen a middle-aged women wearing sunglasses indoors since I went to La Caprice in about 2005. The beautiful people. Well, they were beautiful once, I’m sure, behind the layers of make-up and the plastic surgery. I’m being slightly unfair of course, but you’ll definitely see what I mean if you visit.
Before mum-in-law arrived a charming lady told me my table was ready and led me through the atmospherically-lit dining room, the diffused glows no-doubt designed to hide the wrinkles of the clientele. Once I was seated she asked if I wanted a paper to read whilst I waited. ‘Yes, very kind of you’, I said, and eagerly awaited a gigantic right-leaning broadsheet on one of those wooden poles. To my disappointment she brought over the Evening Standard, which you can find discarded on any tube train. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. Great touch, though. A man sat alone lost in a paper looks far classier than a man sat alone playing Letterpress on his iPhone.
Mum-in-law arrived and was suitably impressed with the grandeur of the dining room. Time to look at the menu. Again, it’s familiar territory if you’ve ever eaten at the Wolseley. An all-day affair, with German/Austrian leanings (there’s a variety of wursts and schnitzels), you could eat here for not that much money, which surprised me. Ignoring in the good-value options I went for the most expensive sandwich on the menu, the lobster roll. Sorry, mum-in-law. I do like a lobster roll. It was 17 quid, not including any sides, so I ordered a portion of pomme frites.
It was with some trepidation I ordered as I did, as I’ve been very disappointed with lobster rolls in the past. Hawksmoor, for example, charge 15 quid for theirs and it’s TINY. I needn’t have worried. When it turned up It was massive, and delicious. The poshest prawn mayo sarnie ever. A delicate white roll stuffed with the best bits of everyone’s favourite crustacean. The pomme frites were excellent, too (though indistinguishable to those served at Brasserie Zedel).
The wine list isn’t too scary either - it’s short, and everything is available as a 500ml carafe. I had one containing a Bordeaux sauvignon blanc for 13 quid.
For dessert, in the grand café tradition I went for something sticky - in this case a coffee eclair, which was a little thing of fine beauty, full of subtly coffee-flavored goo. This was washed down with a glass of the house calvados.
I went to the cloakroom to collect my things (including Yellow Peril, my beloved Brompton folding bike - I always award extra points if a restaurant keeps her safe for me with no fuss) and off I went into the cold London night. Buzzing from the glow of the Calvados, I said goodbye to mum-in-law and walked to the station over Waterloo bridge, reflecting on what a wonderful evening was had. It felt like a proper ‘London’ experience - I almost felt like a tourist (though I feel like a tourist in this city quite often - I live in Surbiton). Basically, I loved the Delaunay. It’s glamourous, fun and a bit ridiculous. It feels like an indulgence to go there, but you could pop in for a well-priced breakfast if you wanted. They do the best Lobster roll I’ve had, and the floor looks a bit like the one from the Red Room in Twin Peaks. Go there. It’s a blast.
Hello! How are you? Oh, I’m fine. Work? Busy. Really busy. The blog has suffered, unfortunately. Yes, I know no-one cares. What? Yes, I know the haiku post was shit. Well, there’s no need to be nasty. Fine. No really, fine. Yeah, whatever. Not if I see you first.
For the first new post in a while I’m going to do things a little differently - there’s going to be no photos. A lack of shaky iPhone snaps hasn’t done Jay Rayner any harm. This is part of an experimental manifesto here at MBFBY? where I reject the popular concept of food blogging and take things to the next level. I know - totally maverick. That, and my phone ran out off batteries on the way there, and I’d left my Hasselblad H4D-60 at home.
My first reaction on hearing about BBQ Whisky Beer last year was one of indifference. It sounded like another trend-driven pop-up.
Residency in pub - check
Name of food served in title - check
US junk food - check
hashtag - check
Therefore, I ignored it. However on Saturday evening tasked with finding a venue to meet a friend in that part of town (which incidentally is more ‘Edgware Road’ than ‘Marylebone’) I thought it would be worth checking out as my friend and I, funnily enough, are both lovers of bbq, whisky and beer.
The pub itself is beautiful. Low-lit, lots of copper and a small open kitchen. Now, I was expecting the ‘whisky’ part of the title to be a short list of bourbons, but it turns out to be a truly mind-blowing collection of Scotch, Japanese, English, Irish and American. One entire wall of the pub is painted with blackboard paint and used to present the whisky list. It has to be the biggest whisky selection in London. It’s staggering - and all grouped into Highlands/Islands etc, presented with price, age and ABV.
In order to line our stomachs for this onslaught of heartburn-inducing goodness we thought it wise to have some food. The menu is very inviting. BBQ, burgers, chicken and sandwiches. We ordered a load of chicken wings and some fried chicken livers to kick things off. We ordered 6 wings for 6 quid. They arrive in a little bucket and there’s actually 12 pieces because they count 1 wing as being both halves of it, as it should be. They came covered in a sweet, mellow buffalo-style sauce with celery and blue cheese dressing, and were very enjoyable indeed. Slightly crispy and so moist on the inside that a chicken bone slid out of my fingers as I was eating and on to my wife’s blouse. I wasn’t really a fan of the chicken livers. Liver is a bit of a ‘dank’ flavour, teamed with the seasoning of the batter I thought they didn’t really work. They could have done with a dipping sauce on the side, really.
Already starting to feel full after the wings and the liver, the sandwiches we ordered for main came over, and mightily impressive they looked, too. My fried chicken sandwich was delicious. Served on a light brioche bun (naturally), it was comprised of a great big chunk of fried chicken with in delicious crispy batter, jalapeño cheese and a tomato relish. It was a fantastically tasty experience. The jalapeño provided a bit of a kick, and the relish gave a bolt of sweetness. The light bun soaked everything up leaving me with a melded, saucy mess about 2/3rd through. Good job there’s kitchen roll on all the tables.
Because I’m a greedy, gluttonous waste of skin, I ate a fair bit of my friend’s pulled pork sandwich after he was defeated by it. This was also excellent - a load of moist pulled pork with a sticky BBQ sauce, with crunchy slaw, in the same brioche bun. The triple cooked chips on the side were very, very crispy. Maybe too crispy for me. To be honest I didn’t eat many chips as by this stage I was very, very full. BBQ Whisky Beer is the only US-style place I’ve been in London that actually does US-sized portions. Our table at the end of the meal looked like 15 truck drivers had just lunched there. You can’t argue with the prices either - the sandwiches were around the 10 quid mark, including chips. I got a takeaway pulled pork sarnie from Pitt Cue once for £6.50 and it was essentially a slider. The one here was literally 4 times the size.
So, I’ve talked about the BBQ and the whisky, what about the beer? This is the weak point, unfortunately. The Wargrave Arms is a Youngs pub, so they are limited to selling beers on Young’s roster. I have nothing against Youngs selection of ales, but celler-tempreature ale just doesn’t cut it when dealing with this sort of food - you need ice-coldUS-style microbrews, high on hops. There was nothing at all here like that. One of the guys I was with was reduced to drinking Stella. I only hope he made it home without starting a fight with a policeman or something. I understand that this is something they aren’t happy with themselves and are working on a solution, so don’t let this put you off.
In an over-saturated (fat) London food scene where peddlers of BBQ, burger and fried chicken are ten-a-penny, BBQ Whisky Beer stands out as they are serving up spot-on executions of modern junk food classics, and you get a hell of lot for you money. It’s in a beautiful old pub and the whisky collection has to be seen to be believed. Shame about the beer but hopefully this will be sorted out soon.
If you managed to get this far without the need to look at a picture then congratulations - your attention span is in fine fettle. Do let me know what you think in the comments below - if people feel the blog doesn’t need pictures then I may reduced them, or even cut them down entirely for future posts - it certainly made my own dining experience (and that of my companions) far more enjoyable by not have to worry about taking a snap of every element of the meal, and forces me to work a bit harder with the descriptions of the dishes. All feedback welcome, especially insults and death threats. Ciao, yah?
BBQ Whisky Beer at the Wargrave Arms
40-42 Brendon St
Yes, another review of a burger restaurant. However, you’re in for a treat today. For this review, I’m going to harness the power of HAIKU.
WARNING - Quality of poetry not guaranteed.
We joined the queue
A hipster hamburger joint
Cold Saturday night
“Only half an hour”
Said the chipper clipboard bloke
“It better be good”
Inside it’s makeshift
The water in milk bottles
Very bloody ‘now’
I ordered some wings
And a Smokey Robinson
Which is a burger
The place, very small
The hungry hordes looking in
“Got here just in time…”
The wings were lovely
Kind of asian influenced
Light, crispy batter
Tender, moist chicken
Finger licking sticky sauce
I burned my fingers
A burger done rare
The brioche, fluffy and light
Like geisha’s tears
A huge stack of onions
Some tasty bacon
Dessert, a choc-ice
A bloody decent choc-ice
Still, just a choc-ice
Overall, was great
When you think you’ve had ‘em all
Up there with the best
It is deserving
Of far grander prose than *this*
I’m very sorry
A bad idea
so poorly executed
thus ends my haiku
Patty & Bun
54 James St
No reservations, obviously
KINGSTON: LAND OF CHAINS. That’s what they call it. ‘They’ meaning me. Don’t get me wrong, unlike many food bloggers I have nothing against chains. MBFBY? is a blog of the people. It’s just that there are an awful lot of chains in Kingston. Off the top of my head there’s a Pizza Express, Zizzi, Strava, Byron, Nandos, Las Iguanas, Jamie’s Italian, Carluccios, Pizza Hut, GBK, Wagamamma, Browns, La Tasca, Frankie and Bennies and a TGI Fridays. It’s not surprising. Kingston town centre is high street central, complete with John Lewis and the huge cathedral to capitalism that is the Bentalls Center. It’s a very handy resource to have if you live locally (as I do) and you find yourself in need of some egyptian cotton duvet covers or something.
The thing about Kingston is that for a large town full of people with money to spend, there are hardly any decent independent restaurants. New openings are rare - I can’t remember the last time someone excitedly told me about a great new place in Kingston. There’s the wonderful French Table which isn’t even in Kingston, and there’s the Canbury Arms gastro-pub which is great but often completely overrun with children. Honestly, go in there on a weekend lunch and its like Lord of The Flies Jr.
The reason for this that people who live in Kingston work in London, and tend to do most of their eating out in London too. Can’t imagine why they’d want to do that. London is totally overrated for eating out. Especially Soho.
When I heard that a new independently-run Bavarian place had opened by the river I was very, very excited. So excited I went twice in 3 days, so you can rest assured that this review is accurate as it is an amalgamation of both visits. I didn’t drink any steins of Paulaner on the second visit either, in the interests of fair representation. The first visit involved serious and thorough evaluation of multiple steins of Paulaner.
EDIT - commenter Mr. M. Steer pointed out that there’s another branch of Steins in Richmond, technically making it a chain. However, the other one is little more than a shed with a beer garden, and does 2 locations a few miles away from each other really make a chain? More importantly, MBFBY? is not about to let silly things like “facts” get in the way.
Steins itself is a cosy little place. They’ve done the interior up like the inside of a log cabin, not in a ‘theme pub’ kind of way but in a modern Scandinavian style with a nod to current trends (can’t open a new restaurant without factory lighting pendants). It’s grown-up, attractive and welcoming. For the summer months it has an outside terrace overlooking the river. Prime real estate in Kingston. A glance over the river from inside the snug, wooden interior on a cold January afternoon makes you almost feel as if you are in some far-flung corner of deepest Bavaria. Not that I’d know. I’ve never been to Bavaria.
However cool the interior is however, they’re not above making the staff dress up in traditional Bavarian garb. I’m not really sure about this. One the one hand it’s a bit of fun but on the other you really are verging in to ‘theme pub’ territory here. Plus, it can’t be much fun for the staff. “WENCH - HAND ME MY STEIN” brays Darren from Marketing. They also lose points for using the term ‘expanding your Bavarian experience’ on the menu. I’ll show you ‘Bavarian experience’, mate. Just let me finish my 5th stein and give me a few minutes to get undressed.
The food - on my first visit I had the currywurst. For £9.50 you get a rather large pork wurst of very high quality (up there with Big Apple Hot Dogs in my opinion) with some salad and crispy outside/fluffy inside fried potatoes. The currywurst sauce is perfectly fine but it was too posh - it lacked the aggressive fake curry flavour of the real thing (the best currywurst is dirt cheap and best purchased at 3AM from a shed under a railway line in Berlin).
On the second visit I had roasted pork shoulder (£12.90) with potato dumplings and red cabbage. It looks a bit like a one of Stein’s customers after too many litre glasses of Paulaner in my photo. The dumplings were great - springy and delicately textured, soaking up the gravy like little Bavarian sponges; the red cabbage had a wonderful sweetness to it. Unfortunately the pork meat was a bit on the dry side and rather bland but the cracking was ace.
Beer-wise as you may have guessed Paulaner is the order of the day, ideally served in MASSIVE BAVARIAN GLASSES. (They also have a reasonable selection of other Bavarian beers and they do cocktails), A stein will set you back £9.30 though (and get you rather more plastered than you thought) so watch out.
Steins is a welcome addition to Kingston’s utterly underwhelming dining ‘scene’, if there is such a thing. It’s fun, it’s relatively inexpensive (unless you go mad on the steins) and the food is decent (though I’d advise sticking with the wursts). It’s a very comfortable place to sit with your fashionable group of 30-something friends, slowly chugging litre glasses of strong beer until someone tries to do a wee into the river and falls in and gets their arm broken by a mob of angry swans. Remember to drink responsibly, dear readers…
56 High St
020 8546 2411
In a stunning return to form, MBFBY? has not only managed to write a post only 3 weeks after the last one, but I’ve managed to review a brand-new hot trendy restaurant that’s only been open for 2 days. Unfortunately, this is another review of another burger restaurant, like all the reviews these days. I am fully aware of how bored some people are of reading about burgers, hearing about burgers, arguing about burgers and in some cases a few people are even bored of eating burgers. Oh well, tough luck. Check back in a few weeks and there will be a review of the latest hot new trend (probably a converted hearse serving prawn cocktails with a selection of Special Brew-based cocktails).
The reason this particular establishment is worth writing about is the simple fact that the MEATliquor team have done more to get Londoners eating decent burgers that pretty much anyone else. It scarcely seems like it but in just over a year MEATliquor has attracted widespread praise, a few detractors and scores of imitators. It’s fair to say they are doing something right.
I knew they had a Hoxton restaurant in the pipeline but knew nothing about it apart from the fact they were going to take bookings (which they will, but not until the new year). All of a sudden, it was open! As I’m based in London’s fashionable East End at the moment (I’m paid to stand outside the Griffin with rolled-up trouser legs and a Where’s Wally hat) it was easy to pop down.
It’s located on Hoxton Market, which is probably one of the most picturesque streets in the area, not that there’s much competition. That’s one of the many reasons this whole Silicon Roundabout thing is so utterly ridiculous. Imagine the first impressions of a powerful investor from the USA going to meet up with some exciting new start-up in London’s fabled Silicon Roundabout. He exits the tube at Old Street (after dodging all the crackheads in the tunnels), goes up the steps and is greeted by chicken shops, rotting buildings and whatever the hell that thing is in the middle of Old St roundabout. California this ain’t. The whole area so desperately wants to be something it’s not, New York, San Francisco, whatever. It’s good that Hoxton Market has retained the original character of the area amongst all the street art and digital agencies.
A quick peek through the window confirmed I was in the right place as I spotted the trademark kitchen rolls on the tables. The interior is genuinely striking, with great attention to detail. They’ve made a proper effort: it’s a high quality finish and it should be appreciated. Gone is the industrial feel of MEATLiquor, this is something with a lot more elegance. The building was previously Hoxton Market Christian Mission and they’ve retained plenty of original features like carved plaques on the walls, the flooring and ceiling dome. You could call it sympathetic if it wasn’t for the amazing Gilbert and George-esque ceiling panels depicting a kind of pagan take on the Last Supper. Not sure the missionaries would approve.
It’s a large space with two separate rooms (one of which will be bookable) so hopefully they should be able to keep the inevitable queues to a minimum.
The menu has lots of new stuff alongside the MEATliquor classics - They do currywurst, monkey fingers, a Peckham dip (french dip to you and I) and several new burgers including a red chill burger and a green chill burger.
I went for some monkey fingers, which are chicken strips in a substantial (but light) batter, served with buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing on the side. Theses were superb, juicy chicken sealed in a batter which was slighty chewy, but not greasy at all . Very addictive. They’re 7 quid for a starter portion but I shared them with my mate Mike and there was more than enough for us both.
As I was in the new outpost of London’s premier burger restaurant I was obliged to have the, er, burger. It was a red chill burger, and it was classic MEATliqour style, cooked rare, well seasoned with a nice bit of kick from the chill. The bun didn’t seem quite as moist as the usual MEATliqour style (maybe it hadn’t been steamed for long) but it was still a cracking burger.
There’s a decent cocktail list by SoulShakers and a good selection of beers (I was drinking Budvar Dark on tap which was lovely. Only thing I’m not sure about is their practice of serving beer in US-style 2/3rd ‘pints’. I’m willing to buy in to the whole US junk food experience but think that might be a step too far. plus, 4 quid for 2/3s of a pint seems a little steep. However, the bill came in at 45 quid for 2 of us with quite a few beers so overall, it’s still great value.
To conclude - I love it. It’s the best thing they’ve done yet. I could quite happily spend an afternoon, evening or both hanging out in there eating meat and drinking beer. It feels a touch more ‘grown up’ than the Titty Twister vibes of MEATLiquor (the distinguished surroundings of Hoxton Market Christian Mission adding a rather refined air to the carnivorous proceedings). That they are going to take bookings is welcome news too. I think I’m going to spend a lot of time in MEATmission. To end I should probably do a joke about worshipping at the altar of meat or something, and I should have used the term ‘dude food’ at least twice, but I’ll leave that sort of thing to the professionals.
14-15 Hoxton Market