A hop, skip and a genuflect away from St. Pauls Cathedral, down a dinky, sun-deprived, Dickensian-feeling side street (the kind you'd expect to be walked down on one of those rubbish ghost London tours) stands the Rising Sun pub. It's a fairly innocuous boozer, scattered with the regular mix of city workers and builders of a lunchtime. But beneath this mild-mannered facade lies the sweaty beating heart of 'trash food' pop-up, Disco Bistro.
As the name suggests and the website asseverates, this is aiming to be an 'anti-establishment punk food revolution' calling for 'Anarchy in St. Paul's!', designed to imbue the patron with the sense that this is a restaurant with a wild side - fine dining meets the Sex Pistols if you will. It certainly is bucking the trend of all those new mainstream eating holes, by actually letting you reserve tables. Fuck yeah subverting popular culture and stuff.
This venture is from the people who brought you God Save the Clam and Rock Lobsta, two pop-ups that were not greeted with unanimous praise to say the least.
In fact, the general lack of reportage on both of them was because they were so awful.
Not that we went, that's just what we were informed.
The signage for Rock Lobsta, very prevalent on the wall in the retro-chaired, B-movie paraphanalia'd restaurant upstairs added an air of trepidation to our forthcoming Disco Burger.
We were encouraged by a very decent start from the precursory chicken wings; fried with a sturdy crunchy-crisp coating and slathered generously with a thick sauce that provided a lovely hot-yet-sweet kick. And when the burger turned up it looked every inch the filthy, trashfest that was promised - an abundant, oozing mound of juice, cheese and sauce.
It hit the target in places: the short rib was densely beefy and moist, smothered with a nacho cheese-style sauce of a good consistency over the top. But the patty which accompanied it was pretty tasteless, a lack of seasoning and meatiness accentuating a contrast between the short rib instead of complimenting it and doubling the beefiness.
There was way too much sweet, tangy barbecue sauce smeared on the bottom which hit hard in every mouthful and made the lettuce next to it warm and a flaccid. The dry brioche highlighted the sloppiness of the contents by not soaking in properly, as is the crime of the slightly stale bun.
Potential stifled by style-over-substance.
Then there is the discrepancy between the two identically named, yet differently contented Disco Burgers: Whilst the upstairs dining room offers the short rib filled burger, the shorter menu in the bar downstairs offers the French dipped version, which was the one we were recommended to try.
Add to that the price point difference of £4 plus service on the former, and you've got to wonder - why would you go upstairs and pay so much more?
The honest boozer quality of Disco Bistro's location, in the midst of a snorefest of food options in the immediate vicinity, and unconventional-for-the-area menu does make it an interesting option. But apart from the City worker who finds it delightfully novel, whether it is worth the journey into the square mile is a coin toss. ✪
- Rob & Simon.
- Disco Bistro