Chef Neil Rankin made his name with Smokehouse as well as a well-received meat cookbook and he’s expanded on the barbecue theme with Temper. This Mexican-influenced Soho outpost is the original location for the small but expanding group (there are also Tempers in Covent Garden and the City), ambitiously located a few doors up from Hakkasan spin-off Yauatcha and round the corner from bun-specialist Bao.
Temper more than holds its own against its illustrious neighbours, however. The small foyer at street level gives no indication as to the proportions of the dining room below, a huge basement space focused around a central 6m-long fire pit, enclosed by an eating counter, with tables and chairs radiating around and private booths hugging the walls.
Snacks, chicken wings and tacos with fun fillings (cheeseburger, smoked goat, haggis) form the small-plates intro to the main event of big plates of meat, cooked in full view of the open fire: 500g T-bone, 500g rib-eye on the bone, 500g Porterhouse or 600g rump.
If your appetite doesn’t stretch that fire, there are carnitas of goat, pork, beef, beef sausage and beef skewers. Fish eaters get wood-fired market fish with tortillas, chipotle sour cream and salad, but really, you’re in the wrong restaurant.
Vegetarians fare a little better with cauliflower from the wood oven or Korean jackfruit and goat’s cheese tacos but, again, this is not really the place for anyone except the most carnivorous – and anyone who doesn’t mind shouting over the very loud acoustics.
Tequila and mescal form the bedrock of the drinks menu – the house Momma’s Margarita is excellent – while cocktails such as the Irn Bru Spritz or beetroot-based Sex & Violets are every bit as full-on as the cooking. Otherwise, there are five beers (including three from Shoreditch’s Redchurch brewery) and some creative non-alcoholic drinks which should help calm the palate from the onslaught of savoury flavours.