The first surprise to a brand new customer is the space itself, designed by co-owner Joana Neza. There are wooden train-carriage style booths down one side of a bare-brick wall, exposed industrial aluminium pipes overhead, antler lights, and a mesh-style cage shielding the kitchen.
A long chrome counter separates the front of the restaurant from the back, a Scandi-style dining room with large floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a courtyard garden. Here low, pale wood chairs surround circular tables. Forget Kentish Town: it’s like an on-trend hangout in Montreal, Berlin or Copenhagen.The menu, devised by Dan Neza (ex Marco Pierre White) and Linas Marsalka, is what they hoarily call “quality street food”. There are wild boar burgers with forest mushrooms, and chargrilled sausages with apple. Veggies are catered for too, with options like green curry cakes with cannellini beans and spinach.
The menu is divided into Lazy Things, Big Things, Easy Things and Early Things: cute, if a little confusing when you’re simply trying to order some lunch on a wet weekday.
As a publication we’ve eaten here three times now since it opened: once on a Friday afternoon, then on a quiet Tuesday night and a final time a week later. Why? Because it’s that good.
On our first visit we had to try a signature dish of Hunter’s Feast stew. Like all the dishes, this was served in a bowl on a wooden pallet: a robust mix of tomatoes, meaty sausages, chorizo and beans in a rich sauce, crowned with shredded duck and roasted hog, it felt especially decadent when dunked with the springy home-made sourdough.Ipreferred the venison burger, however. We weren’t too sure whether the chef would cook the gamey meat as medium-rare as requested – but sure enough, it came rosily juicy, topped with with a slick of caramelised onion between what the waiter explained was a dark squid ink bun: sounds unusual, but a perfect fit. A side of crisp sweet potato fries (an extra £3.95) was pimped up by a truffle and garlic mayo dip.
Some vits? These were amply provided by a veggie board, piled in very edible fashion with roasted bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and artichokes. Oh, and some goat’s cheese for good measure.
There’s a handful of wines-by-the-glass on the list. We bravely ordered a bacchus from Essex – near Chelmsford in fact – which gave off sharp gooseberry flavours, with a rounded edge of elderflower. The muscular food menu lends itself more to red, however, like the full-bodied 14.5% Shiraz we sipped with the burgers.It was a good start. So after raving about it to my partner we returned the following week to check that the toweringly flavoursome venison burger was as delicious second time round.
And the good news is it was. My colleague Tom here has since been with his wife and enjoyed a juicy, chargrilled steak – and yet another outstanding venison burger (yes, time for us to explore the rest of the menu, methinks).
All of which means that, with its good-value pricing (the mains are mostly under a tenner), unique interior and cockle-warming plates, this is a genuine new destination for locals – both carnivores and herbivores – to sink their lazy teeth into.
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