Reviews


"BURGERS HAVE BECOME A REAL BORE. IT'S JUST MINCE ON TOAST." - A.A. GILL

Randy's Wing Bar / Hackney Wick,  London

Randy's Wing Bar / Hackney Wick, London

Street food wing stop opens permanent space in new Olympic park legacy project. We check out the canal views. And eat the food. And are disappointed.

We Serve Humans @ The Gunmakers / Clerkenwell, London

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We Serve Humans @ The Gunmakers / Clerkenwell, London

There are some pretty nice places to go eat around Farringdon and Clerkenwell, and more food traffickers are realising this and setting up shop. It is ample pickings. But sometimes it takes us so long to get around to reviewing gaffs that they've closed down and become something else before we get a chance to. Oh, how fickle is City crowd! Guess they didn't need our poxy website rambles to tell them it was shit. Bad restaurant gossip must spread faster here than the rumours about Brandon's chlamydia around High School.

So a residency in a pub kitchen is probably a wise idea in the revolving door of bricks and mortar establishments, and food merchants We Serve Humans have found one in The Gunmakers - A cute, simply designed wee boozer selling craft beer and cocktails that oddly has an rather expensive hairdressers above it, should you desire a chopped barnet with your IPA. 

Technically the 'burger' section of the menu only contains one actual burger, named The Chairman (the rest being an array of differing sandwiches*) so we went with it. Upon arrival it most definitely looked disheveled, as if someone had briefly used it in place of their Shake Weight: The pickled red onion jam lay raggedly, discarded purply perm curls across cheese slices that looked barely rattled let alone melted, encased in what looked like a sad unsugared doughnut. So it was shit then...

Nope, it wasn't. It was actually bloody great.

The sad doughnut was a soft cream bun that had a great creamy mild flavour with a durable squish and just-chewy texture. The patty was delightfully soft beef, loosely formed with a pink stripe through the middle, and had stand out meaty well-seasoned flavour. 

Despite being unmelted, the American-style cheese slices were the kind that easily acquiesced their salty rubberiness to the heat of the meat. The onion jam added sweetness without being overbearing, mellowed by the creamy custom bun sauce. This is one such example of sandwich thaumaturgy where simple mixtures of ingredients that don't look like much, when forcefully merged together by the crushing of two bits of tasty bread, just work. And work well.  

Oh, and you get fuck loads of chips. Tick in the portion size box.

These guys currently have a couple of other pub residencies and a regular Saturday gig at the Signature Brewery in Leyton so if you are East London-centric you'll have no problem catching them. We will be again soon. 

  • Rob

*Yeah, we're pedants.

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Coin Laundry / Exmouth Market, London

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Coin Laundry / Exmouth Market, London

A little while back we heard of a new place opening up that boasted plans to reintroduce the much maligned chicken kiev. *Groan*. Aren't there enough fucking themed food places in London already? Then we checked out the trendy-font menu - Spag Bol Croquettes? Fuck yeah we're trying them. And a cheeseburger? Enough said.

There is nothing particularly special about the look of Coin Laundry. As far as reconditioning jobs go, they have done a bang up one of restoring the pub-ness back to what was once a Caribbean restaurant - old decorative tiling adorns both the frontage and some walls inside. They have also stayed true to the current en vogue design tropes of bare brick walls, pared down lighting and Formica cafe tables. The result is a weirdly sparse space - too boozer to be 100% restaurant, too restaurant to be comfy boozer.

The menu reads like a 'Vice caters your parents engagement dinner party' think piece - taking old school dining classics and giving them a dernier cri makeover: The menu is peppered with bygone dishes like faggots, shepherd's pie, and speciality of the house Chicken Kiev, given fancy makeovers. And the delicious fizzy syrup-water that we remember from the Sodastream of our youth has been morphed into strange cordial concoctions such as pear and clove, tasty but way too subtle in the taste-the-actual-sugar stakes.

The cheeseburger arrives looking delightful and suspect in equal measures - Yes, that is a bap. A floured bap. But it is OK, it is a surprisingly good bap - with a fluffy soft inner and crisp, pliable outer shell. It is a decent bread kennel for the two marvellous thin patties, with outrageously good dark crusts from a good smashing, seasoned well with generous meaty flavour and adorned with a gooey, stringy Red Leicester-style cheese melted into the nooks and crannies. 

Added to this medley are some finely diced onions, diced pickles, a deeply sweet ketchup and some English mustard which all meshes together into a delicious sweet-piquant relish. A lot of places say they model their cheeseburger on the classic McDonald's version, but this is the first one that properly tastes like it: Having all the separate ingredients mingle together in the sandwich offers different subtle blends in every mouthful that brings recollections of Ronald's creation to mind, with an added dry heat from the mustard on the back of the tongue throughout.  It is really good. We are genuinely surprised.

The memories continue with the Spag Bol croquettes which offer up insta-reminiscences to our Aunty's savoury mince 'n onions style Bolognese that she used to serve up when we were kids, covered in a thick, crisp breadcrumb. Ever so slightly dry, and could use a good Arrabiata-style dip, but great flavours and worth trying for sure. 

When this place is busy it probably has a decent atmosphere, but struggles in the day as a half-empty makeshift cafe. Regardless, the food we tried was very decent and conjured up fond recollections. We'll be back to see if the Chicken Kiev can match up with the Bernard Matthews ones we used to nosh down after school with some potato waffles*. 

  • Rob

*These guys serve waffles too, but only for breakfast.  

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Patty Smith's @ Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen / Leeds, UK

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Patty Smith's @ Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen / Leeds, UK

Patty Smith's serves out of a white-tiled hatch in a cosy and eclectically furnished space, adorned with neon signage and posters, skirting trendy bar whilst bleeding the essence of a gig venue. The Smith's flank the bar on one side while pizza tossers the Dough Boys occupy the other, a proper street food ambience à la Street Feast in London. Pizza, burgers and booze - this place has vibes on lockdown.

We grabbed their classic cheeseburger, the Dirty Burger. It has similarities with the wares of the eponymous London chain that it shares a name with, especially the bun which is shiny and sweaty from the beefy-grease sauna of the grill plate. It has that similar pliable softness and chewy pull-apart texture too, the facets of our favourite style of brioche. 

The rest of the set up is pretty standard - tart American mustard swims with a tangy-sweet chipotle mayo, blending into a tasty sauce ocean below a flotilla of crisp chopped baby gem lettuce. 

Thick crinkle bricks of pickle crank up the crunchy piquant, smoothed out by the mellow meat flavour of the savoury patty: It is plump, loosely packed with a largely pink core and the meat errs the right side of deliquescence in the chew. All it lacks is a bosh of seasoning. There also isn't enough of the melted-to-liquid cheddar, an absence notable by the translucence atop the patty. A bit more of it to amp up the tanginess and this would have been top notch. Regardless it is a very decent burger at a reasonable price. 

Top notch are the session fries. The genius idea of a plastic serving tray size sharable platter of fries with toppings (which reminds us of L.A. street food legend Frysmith). Not only are the fries a crisp deep brown from their double frying, but they come topped with large chunks of pancetta, chopped kebab shop chilis, grated pecorino and fried rosemary - a forceful mixture of hot and matured savoury cuddled by an outstanding Sriracha chilli mayo which had both heat and creaminess and a deep sweetness. This was only really meant to be a snack stop but so good were these guys that we filled up our greedy faces finishing them. 

It'd be lovely if we knew of somewhere in London that was like this - a multi-faceted gig space that you could also go drinking at and had some fucking solid food in it to boot - but we don't*. See, the North can be alright sometimes. 

  • Rob

*If you know one, let us know. 


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