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A Soho basement smokehouse.
I love a rebel. Temper gallops up to the ‘cooking on charcoal’ bandwagon, then sets it on fire. Imagine smoked meat and fish served over tacos and flatbreads, with pow-pow Asian and Latin spices. It’s one of those rare, holy-shit-I’ve-not-eaten-like-this-before places.
This Soho joint, from Scottish chef Neil Rankin (Smokehouse, Bad Egg) sources top-notch whole carcasses, which are grilled or smoked in slabs – a cow’s entire ribcage, a legless goat (no jokes, please) – ahead of slicing or dicing. The most straightforward dishes are those served over a ‘flatbread’ (more of a basic roti, made with rendered animal fat and puffed up on the grill) in small, affordable portions. Try the impossibly juicy pork, or the full-flavoured smoked goat. To this bread-and-meat-combo, you add up to eight exotic sprinkles and salsas (all homemade). I loved the simplicity of their ‘green sauce’: just lime juice, coriander and garlic.
But it’s with the tacos where things really get interesting. They grind the corn on site (of course they do), and because these rough, rustic little discs are hand-pressed, they’re thicker than usual, so you can really taste – and feel – the corn. But the fillings, oh, the fillings. I adored the soy-cured beef. This is a twist on a yukhoe (a Korean ‘steak tartare’), which they make by stripping off the outside of a half-smoked joint of beef to expose the uncooked bit underneath (sort of like using the inside of a medium rare steak), then hand-chopping and mixing with apple, homemade red chilli sriracha, sesame and soy. It’s an addictive, melt-in-the-mouth jumble: smoky, sweet, fragrant, salty and fiery. It’s epic.
Or ‘blowtorched’ mackerel, served with two kinds of citrus (lime juice and bergamot – bergamot!), a creamy mix of avocado and sour cream, an emulsion of smoked mussels, shavings of deliciously salty bottarga (a cured Sicilian fish roe) and more of that lovely green sauce. Don’t miss the terrific raclette potatoes (cooked in rendered animal fat with lashings of cheese), either. Oh, and the moreish scotch bonnet chilli nachos. Order many, many portions. Trust me.
Then, just when you think the food can’t get any more exciting, along come the puds. There’s a kouign-amann (a puff pastry ‘cake’) soaked in sweet-and-salty butterscotch and served – as if it wasn’t rich, buttery and nom-nom enough – with a dulce de leche ice cream. There’s also a dish filled with cookie dough, baked so it’s crunchy on the outside but gooey in the middle (where you’ll find a semi-cooked brigadeiro: a Brazilian ball of cocoa-and-condensed milk). You know all those childhood fantasies about being allowed to eat the dough from the mixing bowl? This is all those dreams, come true.
And though the semi-industrial spot is in a large windowless basement, it has a fire at its heart. There’s a huge rectangular counter with grills in the middle (sit there if you’re on a date; grab a booth if you’re with pals), music that’s fun-loving, a bill that won’t upset you and staff that act like they care, first and foremost, about you having a really good time. I’ll drink to that. Mezcal please, barkeep.
25 Broadwick Street
|Transport:||Tube: Oxford Circus|
|Price:||Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £90.|
|Do you own this business?|