Blacklock: Blacklock rocks (March 2015)

It’s often been said there is no such thing as bad publicity and a huge amount of the column inches written about new London eatery Blacklock seem to focus on the fact that it is housed on the site of a former brothel at the margins of slightly seedy Soho. Sure, this helps, as does the no-booking policy which ensures queues of desperate would-be hipsters at peak times, but what matters here is the food. This is reason enough to ensure Blacklock’s success. It’s also good value and the place has a great vibe, as evidenced by a recent visit undertaken by a friend and myself. There are no vestiges of the building’s previous life and the model here – both in terms of décor and menu – is one premised on simplicity: think white-washed walls, chunky wooden tables and an open kitchen. Similar to the ever-popular and successful Burger & Lobster, Blacklock is the antithesis of choice – what you see is what you get. It’s all about wonderfully high-quality (organic) meat, cooked pink over charcoal and then pressed with the eponymous Blacklock iron. Diners chose, beef, pork, lamb or all three. We went for the latter option, sharing their ‘all-in’ platter. The meat was juicy and luscious and the decision to provide starch in the form of grilled flatbread (which soaks up the meat’s juices perfectly) is a masterstroke, far more inventive than the ubiquitously pedestrian chip. The sides also spoke of quality, an amazingly intense dish of sweet potato (apparently cooked for ten hours) and beautiful pairing of charred courgette and chicory, topped with stilton. It’s simple, but it’s effective. Our food was also helped down with a very reasonably priced and quaffable carafe of Californian Pinot Noir. It was clear from where we sat that others were having a similarly good experience as us and the staff also seemed enthused about the job they were doing. There was a real buzz about the place, helped too by the great selection of tunes being played. While we loved it, one – easily rectifiable – quibble is that Blacklock still does not have a functioning coffee machine, despite being open for several weeks. Put this to one side; go and enjoy, but be prepared for the queue.