SquareMeal Review of Temper Soho
This buzzing bonfire of a restaurant is dedicated to the art and craft of cooking in-house butchered meat: below the small, ground-floor taco bar lies an expansive room featuring a theatrical open kitchen with a wood-fired grill and clay oven. Bag one of the counter stools and watch in wonder as the chefs prepare your food over fire.
The name refers to the kitchen’s commitment to tempering the meats, whether that’s Essex beef, Yorkshire pork or Welsh lamb – a practice which ensures the fullest flavours. Then there’s the quality; all beef is rare breed, grass-fed and sourced from UK farms with high welfare practices. This sourcing extends to the rest of the menu too, from fish to vegetables and drinks and, what’s more, Temper also operates a zero-waste policy, so anyone concerned about its eco credentials can dive in with abandon.
Diners can take their pick from a high-octane cuisine-hopping menu that runs from must-order blowtorched mackerel tacos freshened with sweet white miso and mashed avocado to little bowls of Thai-style larb combining roasted rice with ‘burnt ends’ for a spicy clash of textures. The prices of the beef cuts are a little off-putting, but this is a steakhouse and it is excellent quality. We recommend ordering the full quota of sauces – beef fat béarnaise, green sauce, chipotle sour cream, Korean BBQ, and pepper sauce – and finishing off with a gooey-centred cookie, baked in a cast-iron pan and topped with fior di latte ice cream.
Well-considered cocktails, such as the Irn-Bru Spritz and pineapple Negroni kick off the drinks list, but it’s mezcal flights served in traditional clay copitas and a vast selection of tequilas that dominate. There’s also a healthy selection of wines from around the world. Enthusiastic and committed staff seal the deal at this thoroughly modern BBQ bunker.
About Temper Soho
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.