Tag Archives: American

Restaurant review – Joe’s Southern Kitchen, Kentish Town Road, NW5

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Sometimes – OK, all of the time – it’s good to test your preconceptions to see if they’re true. What I’ve discovered over the years that basically all of my preconceptions are unfounded: honey on baked beans is delicious (don’t mock ’til you try it); wedding dress shopping can be fun; and not all whiskey tastes like soil mixed with petrol.

I had another preconception tested this week in the shape of dinner at Southern Joe’s Kitchen in Kentish Town.

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Restaurant review – Honky Tonk, Clapham Common South Side, SW4

Sometimes when you push yourself to go out of your comfort zone you’re rewarded with new discoveries, a broader horizon and, if you’re lucky, even a boosted confidence. My comfort zone is most definitely North London. I’m talking a comfort zone within London here. Obviously I am happy to travel out of North London to leave London, but when I’m in London my heart is always north. It is my home and I love pretty much everything about it, with the exception of Morrisons on Holloway Road, which is the third circle of Hell.

But last night I ventured to South London. I was on a promise. A promise of burgers and hardshakes at Honky Tonk. Honky Tonk is one of those seemingly ubiquitous places that are attempting to be a slice of Americana in London. Burgers, wings, pulled pork. And bourbon. Always with the bourbon. Honky Tonk have one branch in Chelsea and another in Clapham. Due to all of this, my hackles were raised from the offset.

I went with Andrew and our friends, Martin and Laura. Martin is big fan of burgers. BIG (ironic really, because he’s a really tiny person). He complained that my blog hadn’t featured burgers in a while. Seemed only fair he came along for this one.

We arrived and were seated quickly. It was pretty quiet, but the joint started to fill quickly after 8pm. Weird really, because Honky Tonk’s happy hour ends at 8pm. Whatevs.

The restaurant is kind of a hybrid of anything the interior designer thought was “trendy”. Exposed brickwork, mirrors with quotes written on them lining the stairway (to the grim loos), a wardrobe in the corner that claims to lead to Narnia. I didn’t get involved in that hijinx. Overall the decor was at best tedious and at worst anger inducing (in my opinion, because I hate that stuff).

The boys and I decided to have hardshakes, while Laura sensibly went for an OJ. Then we waited 20 minutes for them to arrive. Did I mention the restaurant was pretty empty? Yeah, I did, didn’t I? The shakes came served in large milk bottles, with the shot of liquor on the side in one of those jam jars your get marmalade in at hotel breakfasts. All highly whimsical. What absolute larks.

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The milkshakes were actually pretty good. I started to relax. I even said to the others that, “I thought I was going to hate this place, but I actually quite like it”. See, I open-minded and willing to cast my net wide (to Clapham, burgers are obviously in my proverbial net).

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Martin and I ordered starters because we’re massive pig-rats. I had buffalo wings with peri peri marinade and blue cheese sauce, Martin had crab cakes. My buffalo wings were fine, but they weren’t the best I’ve ever had (MEATLiquor, people). The portion wasn’t exactly generous. How very un-American of them. Martin said his crab cakes were good. I didn’t try them because they were tiny and there were only two.

Then we waited for another 30 mins or so for our main course to come. Oh but don’t worry, they left those empty, finished plates in front of us for about 15 of those minutes. In for a penny in for a pound with the lacklustre service.

The food did come. Andrew had gone for some greedy heart attack in a metal tray, which was meant for two people (two pieces of their famous ‘Not’ fried chicken, half a rack of pork ribs smothered with either our BBQ or bourbon sauce, a generous helping of pulled pork and buffalo chicken wings coated in a choice of sauce – buffalo, BBQ or peri peri, served with rosemary fries). This is a blurry shot taken by my fiancé:

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I had a Honky Tonk burger (cheese, bacon, caramelised onion, guacamole, salsa, gem lettuce, tomato and their “very own and very delicious” burger sauce), Martin had a Fire in the Hole burger (topped with red jalapenos, baby gem lettuce, tomato, chilli cheese & honky hot sauce) and Laura had a Halloumi burger.

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My burger was OK. The brioche bun was good, but the burger sauce was, I think, wholegrain mustard mixed with mayonaise (this is distinctly not burger sauce as I know it), and the patty was overcooked and very dry). The chips were magnificent.

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Martin’s burger was also overcooked and apparently not that hot. Blah. Andrew’s tray was actually just two of each item and a pretty small bowl of pulled pork, but SHEDLOADS of chips. As he pointed out, if he was sharing he’d be pretty annoyed. Laura said her burger was good.

Now we waited about 30 minutes for our plates to be cleared. The wait staff did clear them in their own sweet time, but they left mine and walked off to talk to someone behind the bar. Eventually I had to go over and ask them to take my plate and to bring us the bill.

The bill came. It was significantly incorrect to make us irritated. In the end, our meal cost £120. This is pretty bloody steep, I think. Especially when everything about the meal was pretty lazily done.

Sadly this adventure did nothing that made me change my mind about North London being distinctly better than South. I wouldn’t even go to Honky again if it was next door to my house, though.

Service: 0.5
Venue: 2
Value: 0.5
Overall: 2/10

Honky Tonk, 16a Clapham Common South Side, London SW4 7AB

Nearest tube: Clapham Common (1 min walk)

Honky Tonk on Urbanspoon

 

I was invited to review Honky Tonk. Yes, you read that right.

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Restaurant review – Tommi’s Burger Joint, Thayer Street, W1

Lunchtime is like running the gauntlet at the moment. I work just off Thayer Street in Marylebone, and the street is lined with interesting places to eat. They make having a sad Covent Garden Soup feel like a personal failure. So err, sometimes I fall off the wagon and have a burger.

Having exhausted the menu at Patty & Bun down the road, I went for Tommi’s. They’re pretty no-frills, which is standard in London’s now ubiquitous line of burger restaurants. I was getting take out so I went up to the desk to order.

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I went for a cheeseburger and fries. I also got some cocktail sauce, which turned out to be a regrettable decision. I waited for a bit – 10 mins? – and then my burger arrived in a bag. You then have to go up to the counter and help yourself to pickles. This annoyed me because I am a massively petty person. Pickles shouldn’t have to be added to a burger – they’re either in there (good) or not (bad). I don’t want to have to add them myself. Christ. This is 2014.

I took my brown bag back to work and probably stank the office out with fast food smell. Sorry guys. You’re nice and you deserve better.

Here’s what the burger looked like:

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Here’s the bite through shot:

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It’s blurred. GO ME!

Anyway, as you can see I added load of pickles. There was also lettuce, tomato and raw red onion in there. The patty was cooked medium (good) but was pretty gosh darn dry (bad). And also a bit chewy (oh so bad). The bun was sweet and basically guys it tasted like a McDonalds burger. Which is great if you like McDonalds. I’m not fundamentally opposed to them myself, especially not while drunk and roaming the Holloway Road at 1am, but meh – the best part of £10 for a knock-off McDonalds? That I am opposed to.

P.S. The cocktail sauce tasted of nothing. It was like eating warm, clammy nothing. I love me my condiments, but this one was in desperate need of some flavour.

Service: 4
Venue: 3
Value: 2
Overall: 6/10

Tommi’s Burger Joint, 30 Thayer St, Marylebone, London W1U 2QP

Nearest tube: Bond Street (6 min walk)

Tommi's Burger Joint on Urbanspoon

View my food journey on Zomato!

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Restaurant Review – Honest Burger, Camden Lock Place, NW1

I met one of my closest friends, Josie, nearly 15 years ago – gulp! – when first started Sixth Form. We had our “frees” together, and spent most of them in the sixth form common room talking about boys and whether we should go to the local shop on a snack run or not.

Jos and I, circa 2005
Jos and I, circa 2005

Fifteen years, countless nights out and a few “boys” later and here we are. Josie is married to the lovely Ash and they’re off to live in America. Although excited for them, I am sad to be saying goodbye to Jos – even if we both know we’ll always be close. So I’m trying to cram in as many meet-ups with her as I can at the moment! When Ash suggested Andrew and I go and see Scroobius Pip with them I was all over it.

So this Monday we headed to Camden, stopping off for a meal first… We decided on Honest Burgers, as going to burger joints has become our go-to choice recently.

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Honest Burger is pretty no-frills, with burgers and fries served in large enamel bowls and the venue having bar-style seating around the edge of the open kitchen. Oh, and the wine is served in tumblers (see above).

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However, what you get for this no-frills venue is reasonably priced and very decent food. I went for the special, which came with red onion rings and pickled green chillies. At £11, it also came with a generous portion of the house signature salt and rosemary fries, which were perfect – crispy, fat and fluffy. The burger itself was delicious, too.

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The patty was hella juicy and perfectly pink, and the other fillings gave the burger a lovely sweet, salty and then spicy undertone. The bun was also perfect – mopping up the massive amount of juice and staying light and fluffy, holding together the burger to the last bite.

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This is the “Honest”, which is red onion relish, beef patty, smoked bacon, mature cheddar, pickled cucumber and lettuce. I was allowed a small bite and can confirm it was spanking good, too.

As for the gig – it was brilliant, with an added surprise of seeing Andrew’s brother and his best mate there. A good night was had and added to the 15 years of brilliant memories I have of Josie and mine’s friendship – here’s to many more.

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Service: 4

Venue: 3

Value: 5

Overall: 8/10

Honest Burger, Unit 34A, 54-56 Camden Lock Pl, NW1 8AF (There are branches throughout London – see the website for more details)

Nearest Tube: Camden Town (13min walk)
Honest Burgers on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant Review – Jackson & Rye, Wardour Street, W1D

Last night I headed off to the soft launch, or even pre-soft launch, at Jackson & Rye, a new bar/restaurant in the middle of Soho. With the influence of the owner of Grillshack, Jackson & Rye is a New York-style venue with a 1920s flavour.

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It was very much still in its training stages last night. However, if last night was anything to go by (and I hope it was) and they manage to maintain the excellent standards on display when they open fully, Jackson & Rye will be a contender for my favourite Soho haunt.

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The menu is very reasonable for the quality of the food, and is obviously focused around modern American cuisine. Think fried chicken, whipped potatoes, steak, chowder. All that good stuff. They also have an extensive selection of rye to drink, with bourbon cocktails being their forte. One of my dining companions claimed they mixed the best Old Fashioned they’d ever had (and between me and you, they’ve had their fair share).

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I went for a prime fillet steak, which was served with fries and a béarnaise sauce. I asked for the steak medium rare, which was cooked perfectly for me – pink juices a go-go. The steak was however a little chewy, which I found a bit of a shame. The sauce on the other hand was perfect – rich with a sharp tang, perfectly wobbly. And praise where praise is due: the fries were as good as any I have tasted.

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Also on our table was a fillet of seabass, which was soft and perfectly cooked, with a gentle fishy flavour and was served with a caper sauce. A much lighter choice!

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The HUGE rosemary and lemon chicken was sublime, and was juicy and incredibly flavoursome. However, it came with shoestring fries that were ever-so slightly undercooked and chewy.

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Lastly, the buttermilk fried chicken had our table in raptures. The batter was light, fluffy and crispy and the chicken wonderfully juicy. The portion was generous too, with two large pieces of breast served up.

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Although feeling stuffed, we moved on to dessert. I chose a melting chocolate sundae. I think it was probably the best pudding I’ve had in my life. Served solid, when warm caramel is poured over a decadent dark chocolate dome, the chocolate melts revealing fluffy, rich ice cream underneath. The caramel then half-sets, creating kind of delicious dime bar-style nuggets in the ice cream. Oh my God, I want to eat it all over again.

We also ordered a frozen souffle, which was fruity and light but didn’t really going anywhere and wasn’t varied in texture or flavour. If it had some fruit or sauce with it, it would have made the dish much more well-rounded.

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The blueberry and apple cobbler was great – the apples had been perfectly cooked so they held together and gave a lovely munchable texture, while the blueberry flavour came through strongly. I normally find blueberries a bit insipid, so I was pleasantly surprised. However, the pudding was brought down slightly by the custard that was the consistency of whole milk, meaning it all sort of disappeared as soon as it was poured over.

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Rounding off the puddings was a pecan pie – which was just as it should be. I don’t know if it was anything spectacular, but it was fine.

The selection of Ryes at Jackson & Rye
The selection of Ryes at Jackson & Rye

As I said, Jackson & Rye was in the training stage, so it will hopefully work on these very minor issues and bring everything up to match the spectacular level of the buttermilk chicken, Old Fashioneds and chocolate sundae. I will definitely be back again. The atmosphere was delightful and buzzy, the staff friendly and eager to help and the food varied and fun.

Service: 5

Venue: 5

Value: 4

Overall: 9/10

Jackson & Rye, 56 Wardour Street,  W1D 4JD

Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Square (5 min walk)

Jackson & Rye opens fully on December 11th.

Jackson & Rye on Urbanspoon

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