31 August 2012
Our tactical error here was to arrive late, but not late enough: at 8.00, the queue was down the stairs and out the door of the pub over which the restaurant sits. By the time we sat down nearly two hours later, there were spare seats at the tables. To compound our error, we spent the time in the queue drinking (it is above a pub, and there is sod all else to do), so were pretty smashed, and in need of food, by the time we reached the top of the stairs.
The place is not going to be around long enough for us to make this error again as, this being Shoreditch, it is a pop-up.
This is trendy. There are beards. There are tattoos. There are trousers with gussets warn down by the ankles. I should have taken my 17 year old niece; I went with my 40+ year old mate who, still clinging to the last vestiges of youth, has bought a pretty amazing triplex (he’s American) in the area, with vast sweeping terraces, that reminds him of New York. I’m not sure that the right comparison isn’t Soho rather than SoHo, but the area does have an up and coming feel about it. Which means it is over: the hipsters, the artists, the vegans; they’ll all move on now to somewhere that really is edgy, and the forty-somethings with money, Apple Macs and an edgy side will move in.
Having finally mounted the stairs, we entered the waiting area. A bar. More drinks – cocktails now. Nice cocktails, and, at £6 a pop, way beyond reasonable. So we could hardly stand by the time we were seated. Yes, yes; I know that this is our fault, but don’t make such bloody good cocktails and make us stand around for ages, with nothing to nibble on but some popcorn. Nice popcorn I should add.
Having finally got seated, we ordered straight away. Not difficult, as there is only one thing on the menu: steak. The unfancied skirt to be precise (the rumour that wagyu was going to be on the menu for the last few nights proved to be just that: a rumour). This comes with a salad, for a mere ten notes. As if that’s not good enough, dripping fried chips are thin and crunchy, and the roast aubergine as good a dish as you can find for the purple fruit outside of the Middle East. OK, so they forgot to give us knives, but what the heck: the juicy meat, cooked perfectly to your specification, comes on a wooden board pre-chopped, so not at all a concern.
There are wines listed on the menu, but by this stage it was cocktails or nothing. So cocktails it was: make your own Bloody Marys. These come as the raw ingredients, to be assembled by you to your liking. And what ingredients: fresh tomato juice, smoked vodka, beef stock, freshly grated horseradish (one member of staff seemed solely to be grating the stuff, on a big grater sat proudly in the middle of the (by now, almost empty) dining room), rosemary salt, lemon, as well as the more usual Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces.
Service is really friendly, and, once seated, swift and efficient (knives aside).
There is no doubt that the skirt steak is unfancied for a reason: let’s be honest, it isn’t the best of cuts. But it is still a nice enough one, one cooked nicely enough here; were this to be a more permanent pop-up, I’d go back. But at 6.00 or 10.00, not at 8.00.