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|Address:||22-24 Seymour Place, London W1H 7NL|
|Tel:||020 7768 6112|
|Price: £40.00||Wine: £18.00||Champagne: £55.00|
|Opening Hours:||Tues-Sun 12N-2.30pm, 6-10pm|
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The Indie this week ran a double page spread of a US student's take on British food, the young lady having been in London for all of a couple of weeks. There she was in the picture, clichéd up in a fish and chip shop, holding her fork with that peculiar, backhanded stabbing hold that Americans grow up with, espousing on all things culinary in London.
Predictably she liked burgers (although is geographically challenged, confusing St James's and James St, easy to do as in America it would likely just be James). Also predictably, she didn't like mushy peas, and nor did our peanut butter pass muster; maybe this is because it tastes of peanuts rather than sugar.
This poor girl was then roundly condemned by the trolls who love to write anonymous, loathe-ridden tripe, who themselves were then rounded on by equally anonymous defenders of the right for somebody to write credited tripe in the expectation that people won't tell them that it is tripe. Me, well my view is that it is difficult to take this all too seriously, not least as it is the silly season where newspapers have to fill papers with words when nothing much else seems to be going on. Nothing happening in Egypt. Or Syria. Or in Arsenal's transfer dealings, so you can see the temptation on the editor to get a non-writer to write something that will get people doing his job for him, by writing lots of words. That she hails from a country that inflicted McDonalds and KFC on the world and, despite all the evidence to the contrary, still thinks that grits is a tasty and nutritional part of a balanced meal, only underlines just why the article was so tongue in cheek and why the (at last count) 532 people who commented on it should really get out more.
Lockhart bills itself as a south western kitchen. Lockhart has grits. Blue cheese ones. More interestingly, it has lobster nachos. Yes, nachos, that staple of Americana: mass produced corn chips, as orange as the tan on some Celebrity Big Brother convict nobody who doesn't read the Daily Heil has ever heard of, slathered in “Monterey Jack”, a “cheese” concoction so repulsive it makes cheese string almost tempting, topped with a vast dollop of sour cream and decorated with watery chillies. Disgusting, yet marvellously addictive all in the same sentence.
Not at the Lockhart: here the chips are tan; sort of corn coloured. The cheese is cheddar. Real cheddar. From Dorset. Ok, not totally real, but significantly closer to the Gorge than Monterey. The guacamole is smooth and tastes of avocado. The pepper salsa is peppery, and the lobster a delicate treat on top. A marvellous dish, which the restaurant proudly announces on the blackboard outside, and the one dish that would make me return. On a warm evening, sitting outside, with a cocktail and a plate or two of these beauties, nothing could detract from a lovely London late summer's day. Not the drivers trying to park their tanks into a space fit only for a Twizy; not the smokers who seem to want to ruin everyone's dinner outside, having been banned from doing that inside; not even the pedicab drivers, blearing out their Arabian pop.
It is just a shame that not everything lived up to this early promise.
The mac & cheese with smoked bacon was a nice side, but the shoestring fries under salted and soggy, with only a few retaining that requisite crunch. The crab hush puppies with Cajun sauce, were tiny balls (marrowfat pea size: perhaps they should have been mushed) that were fried and tasted of crab, but with a decidedly bland sauce, rather than the fiery, chili-heavy offerings of the south, and the enchilada was more of a stew, given the slathering of tomatillo sauce and what looked suspiciously like Hellman's mayonnaise squirted on top.
Whilst it is welcome that some of the wines come by the glass and carafe as well as the bottle, this only really works when they have the ones that they offer. Several they did not. Service is friendly, if a little slow, although thank god they have avoided the temptation to go the whole American hog and have some grinning moron bound over to your table spilling iced water and declaring “Hi, my name is Brad and I'll be your server tonight”, before bounding off, leaving you with a bill as soon as you've ordered, one that comes replete with a smiley face and an expectation of a 20% “gratuity”.
It is also not cheap: all the dishes are small, best shared, yet with only a few shared dishes and a couple of glasses of wine each, the bill when it came hit the “wow, how did that happen?” mark, even though the “discretionary” service charge is a more London-normal 12.5%.
Not twenty yards further down the road from the Lockhart is the magnificent tapas bar Donostia. In the UK we tend to go out to one place for an evening. I would suggest doing what a true donostiarra would do: take your time on an evening out; dip in and out of places, sampling the best that each has to offer. At the Lockhart, this would be the lobster nachos. I would then move on to Donostia, maybe for their pil-pil or txipirones, before moving on to the next taste, or maybe just a nightcap at a local hostelry.