Burger and Lobster

There is scarcely a harder choice in life: Burger or Lobster? In any case, that is what you are confronted with as you enter the restaurant with no menu or bookings but a huge lobster tank, open kitchen and beautiful bar.

B&L had many critics when it first opened a few years ago, with many saying “a restaurant that only sells Burgers or Lobsters will never work!” And yet, my eating partner and I arrived at 6.30pm on a Wednesday night and were faced with an hour and a half wait! (Not to mention a global empire of restaurants).

To move onto the food, I went for the grilled lobster and my eating partner went for the lobster roll. The lobster roll, pictured, is a melange of cool lobster and spiced mayonnaise, stuffed into a warm brioche roll. I find it amusing how this Maine fast food is elevated to fine dining, but it really works. It was a delightful dish, and you will genuinely be surprised as to just how much lobster you can stuff into a brioche roll!

I went for the grilled lobster which, as lobsters go, was faultless. Perfectly cooked, so the flesh was firm but not hard, and it came out of the shell very easily. It is one of life’s hardest choices: do you tackle the harder claws first before moving onto the denser flesh of the main cavity or do you leave the claws to the end? I went for the claws first, and with a B&L bib attached to my frontage, garlic butter streaming down my chin and my hands covered in lobster, I was quite a sight… All dishes are served with decent fries and a better than decent salad. As for the pricing, a £20 lobster is surely London’s best bargain?

We were lucky enough to meet the chef and be shown down to the lobster tanks in the basement after our meal, which was a great experience: they get through tonnes and tonnes of lobster every week. I was even allowed to hold one of the fine creatures. I wonder if they have thought about making it a petting zoo in the morning?

Go to B&L if you want to have a fun, filling and delicious meal. I am sorry that there wasn’t a third member to tackle the burger, however they did look very fine. But lobster for £20… that is too good to miss!

I will be returning as soon as possible!

Burger & Lobster
Food: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Lobster tankage: 9/10
Overall: 8.6/10

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Restaurant Review: The Wild Game Co, Charlotte Street

It’s truly amazing how the smell and taste of food can transport us back to particular memories. I most recently noticed this when smelling mint sauce and I was transported back to Sunday Lunches with my grandmother. Yesterday, as I stepped inside the Wild Game Co I was transported back to holidays in Shropshire. Why? The smell of beef dripping! Yesterday was fairly cold and stepping inside the Wild Game Co was like coming home; a coat hanger for my coat and a very homely warmth. The interior is simply a comfortable place to sit. And all the while the smell and sounds of the kitchen waft through. (Can a sound waft? I hope it can).

To the food. The menu is really great, and truly to my taste. Just 6 main courses and 3 sides. Simples. There are three burgers which all look really great; I was very curious to try beef bacon, but that will have to wait for another time. Then there were a good selection of venison steaks, served either with chips, as a chateaubriand for two people or a salad. The salad was “very good” according to my friend, and the presentation-beautiful. Then the side dishes. Those who have eaten with me in a restaurant before know that, when it comes to side dishes, I am obsessed. Really obsessed. Dangerously so. So I decided to order all of them-why not?

First there were the beef dripping fries. Meaty, salty and crispy- they were brilliant. And I was suddenly in Shropshire 8 years ago, which was a bit weird. A small salad followed; pearl barley, beetroot, feta and curly kale. Confession time-I find feta hugely overrated, but here it worked really well. It wasn’t those unchewable cubes that are normally find but tiny little crumbles which added a depth of saltiness that was needed for the beetroot. Then on the top were shards of crispy kale-as crispy as seaweed. The star dish was the hearty portion of ‘stovies’. These transported me back to Scotland-lumps of braised venison, soft new potatoes and onions so soft, translucent and sweet. It was a food hug.

What I really like about this restaurant is the fact that they have a real respect for the meat they are serving. The venison is cooked really well. Secondly, it would have been so easy to charge outrageous amounts for venison, because it is less common, but (for example) the venison burger is cheaper than the beef burger. Hurray! Lastly, walking in feels like coming home to memories of food (well, it does for me, anyway). If more restaurants could do that, well…

The Wild Game
Food: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Homecoming: 9/10
Pricing: Burgers from £6, Steak from £8
Overral: 8.7/10

Hakkasan Mayfair Restaurant Review

I have for many years wondered whether the model of a restaurant that provides fantastically freshly cooked food to a huge number of covers is a) possible and b) worth it. I’ve also wondered whether the degree of light in a restaurant correlates with its success. As you can see, I live a sheltered existence.
Anyway, Last night I was invited to a mammoth of a meal in London. It was a friend’s birthday and he very kindly asked me to come as well. Hakkasan is a Chinese/Japanese/Fusion place, which is found all around the world, and walking in to the main entrance one could see why. It looked almost like a nightclub with a faded glass door and the likes of Steven Gerrard’s wife in the foyer (apparently;I wouldn’t know what she looked like…) and downstairs it was a labyrinth of corridors, with dining areas between. How the waiters find the tables is a mystery to me, as finding our table half way through the meal for the second time was a difficult challenge.
So onto the food. The menu is again a labyrinth, with a huge variety on offer. We ordered some great salt and pepper squid, perfectly cooked, not at all chewy, and crunchy without feeling fatty. The natural flavour of the squid shone through in this dish, not something you see that often, unfortunately.
There was crispy duck salad, with something like grapefruit, and pine nuts. For me this was the star of the whole evening, and I couldn’t find a single fault in it. It was a triumph. Crispy duck skin contrasting with fresh crunch of salad leaves, and then the citrusy zing of freshness at the end. I wish I could explain better just how good it was, but I fear that that could be difficult. It was a beauty to look at as well, with the pink fruit contrasting with golden duck skin and the bright green salad.
There was also jasmine smoked ribs. These were unctuous and sticky, perfectly cooked and utterly delicious. I felt rather fortunate to be able to eat so much of this food. In fact, going there and ordering individual dishes seems now to be not nearly as fun!
On to the mains. There was black Welsh beef with mushrooms, simple but again perfectly cooked. It was beautiful to look at too. It had the dense beef contrasting excellently with the crunchy vegetables, all coated in a thick brown sauce.
Spicy chicken with vegetables made an appearance, and I confess to not really thinking what vegetables they were. This spice was fantastic: it grew and grew until reached the back of your throat. There was fantastic rice, consistently good across the table as well.
Pudding was a rich decadent chocolate cake, filled with a smooth mousse. Utter perfection.
All in all last night’s meal showed me that the questions I posed earlier in this post have answers. So, yes, a restaurant can produce freshly cooked meals on demand to a huge number of covers, and yes it is worth it. And yes, if a restaurant is practically in complete darkness, this can correlate with a good eating experience, that is, unless the power is out.
Hakkasan Mayfair
Food: 9/10
Service: 8.5/10
Labyrinthness/trendiness/darkness: 8.5/10
Score: 8.67/10
Price: starters from £10, mains from £30, give or take.