Find and book great restaurantsFind a Restaurant
|Address:||13 Exeter Street, London WC2E 7DT|
|Tel:||020 3544 6061|
|Price: £45.00||Wine: £20.00||Champagne: £49.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Thurs 12N-12M (Fri -12.45am) Sat 10am-12.45am Sun 10am-11.30pm|
This review hasn't been rated yet.
Where better to celebrate four more years of Obama than a restaurant that oozes Americana, from every inch of its being? We chose Joe Allen, with its old-school Caesar salads and walls dripping with Yankee kitsch and memorabilia. The restaurant had a buzz that night, as Democrats painted the town and murmurings of praise for the States were unusually common. But there was a spanner in the works. A state of emergency was declared among beef patties in the borough of Westminster, that very night.
We ordered the (not very) secret burgers off-menu, and our waiter’s face became sullen. In grave tones, he relayed the statement he’d be forced to relay umpteen times for the rest of his days. ‘I’m afraid I must tell you that, due to recent ruling by Environmental Health, burgers can no longer be served medium rare.’
Full of wine and good cheer, it took a few moments to sink in. Sensing our bewilderment, and with a genuine air of apology, he repeated himself. (We may have tired of the presidential campaign, but our moral outrage at this baffling legislation was such that we were rendered temporarily mute). So it transpires that upmarket burger bars from Paddington to Pimlico will no longer be able to surprise and delight with happily pink and juicy morsels.
When we finally digested the news, we persevered with the orders (as did the waiting staff, in respectably mournful mood). We found our burgers to be good, but not great, for which the chefs can’t be blamed. The homemade brioche was gorgeous and each was positively soused with melting cheese, but the very mechanics of decent ground beef can’t withstand such a toasting by sustained, Health and Safety-approved temperatures. Chunky skin-on chips and skinny shoestring fries were alright, but the great injustice was that a damn tasty burger was effectively given forty lashes on the grill.
Service was slow but friendly, with one exception: a curt, slightly snappy waitress who seized plates from our grasp without a hint of patience. (Republican, perhaps)? In all honesty, the wall to wall toot was knowingly naff and the toilets were downright grotty. But I got what they were getting at, and it would’ve made a worthy side step from restaurants of TGI Friday’s ilk. I’m just left wondering what will become of the EHO’s ruling given the meaty turns London's restaurant scene has taken this year.