Nature is healing, with meetings in London back on the agenda and me squeezing into a suit I haven’t worn for over 2 years (thank the Lord it still fitted – relatively easily before eating, after it was a bit more of a stretch mind).
Prior to the plague, this blog had a sprinkling of posts regarding eating out in London which promply dried up when we couldn’t leave our homes let alone travel around the country (how I kept it going – the blog, not me in general, but…., week in and week out in those dystopian days is beyond me).
Even with the majority of meetings still done online (culture has really changed – not sure I like it to be honest, all seems rather impersonel, but it has stopped the work phone ringing constantly I suppose) it seems the in person meeting is not yet quite deceased and thus off to London (at an ungodly hour) I went.
My initial location of choice to eat post my business dealings was Humble Chicken. With a rather good review from (the oft hard to please) Andy Hayler, I was looking forward to a chicken knees up there (look at the menu to see what I mean – J was horrified). Alas they messaged me the day before to say too many staff off sick (normality still a way off it seems) so they couldn’t accommodate (chicken) little ol’ me.
This left me in a quandary, but I have wanted to try Blacklock for a while and noticed that their site in Soho was walkable from where my last meeting concluded. A perfect opportunity to give their Great Windmill Street site a whirl I thought.
The fascade and entrance is pure hole in the wall and gives no indication of what lies beneath, other than the “chop love” sign. Given Soho’s somewhat seedy past reputation, for a county bumpkin like me, this could have rung a few alarm bells as to whether I had got the right place (prior to Blacklock the site was apparently a brothel and then a lap dancing club – so a very cheeky chop(per) shop back in the day).
Inside it has the Hawksmoor speak easy vibe, if a bit less salubrious and more industrial in nature, to it and was surprisingly spacious. The seeming nods to Hawksmoor are unsurprising, perhaps, with the people behind Hawksmoor providing funding and support for the business (set up by ex – lawyer Gordon Ker, who escaped the legal hamster wheel – no not jealous at all honest 😬) in its infancy.
I arrived close to opening and thus it was pretty empty,
but it was buzzing when I left.
On the food front, the menu is unashamedly focussed on meat and loads of it.
I must admit I do find it odd that places like this always feel the need to cater for veggies and vegans, as the position is never (at least in my experience) reciprocated in veggie place. Whilst I haven’t been in that many dedicated vegan/veggies restaurants I have yet to frequent one that offers a meat option. Personally I have no issue with that as when I go to a veggie restaurant I am unsurprised that they only have veggie options, kind of comes with the territory doesn’t it, but surely the same arguments apply to a meat focussed restaurant such as this to justify it only selling meat based options.
I do wonder how many of the meat free main (there is but one) they sell, actually sounded quite nice bar from the fact Jerusalem artichokes make me fart (more than usual), but presumably they wouldn’t bother putting it on the menu if it didn’t sell.
Why a vegan or veggie would come to such a meat focussed place is beyond me. I suppose not all veggies do it for moral reasons and have friends that eat meat, but choosing this place if you have veggie friends is somewhat rubbing their noses in it (bit like taking your cat to Crufts). If I was a veggie this place would be very low down my choice of places to eat, even if I had meat eating mates, but luckily for me I am not.
Pricing wise the Big Chops (steaks – beef, pork and lamb) compare very favourably to the likes of Hawksmoor, with the porterhouse £11/100g at Hawksmoor compared to £9/100g here. Based on a 900g porterhouse that is a decent saving of £18.
If I had not been flying solo, the big chop lamb rump sounded rather fine and would have been very tempting. The largest cut on the board was 550g, I think, and at £6/100g (with no bone) that is a lot of baa for your buck at £33.
Prior to my arrival I had had a cheeky peek at the menu and was rather disheartened that the “All in” was stated to be for a minimum of two.
I was, however, told by my very amiable server that they were more than happy to do the “All in” for one. I, therefore, girded my loins and popped the belt out a few notches and settled down for the long eat.
First up were a trio of rather fine pre chop bites (in effect canapes).
First into the gaping maw was a rather pleasing egg and anchovy number. Nice textural contrast between the cracker and the creamy egg, with a salty kick from the anchovy. The chicken one had a tingle of heat from horseradish and sour from the pickled red cabbage, as well as well seasoned and robustly flavoured chicken. The (somewhat Abigail’s Party sounding) cheese and pickle one was the star of the show, with sweet and sour pickled veg. and a punchy salty blue cheese. Very moreish.
Next up was the skinny chop selection, which was a mountain of meat – a veritable Meat Fuji.
which came with a good sized portion of beef dripping chips.
The chips were lovely and crisp, with a soft fluffy interior and an innate beefiness from the dripping. Better than Hawsksmoors’ ones in my opinion (and £1.50 cheaper to boot).
In terms of Meat Fuji, I decided to work down from the pork peak, with the slice of belly first onto my plate.
Lots of lovely glistening fat and meaty juices here, loading up the flavour, with streaks of tender meat. Enjoyed this, with my only slight regret being the lack of crackling.
Next up was a lamb t-bone, again with a good fat to meat ratio (anyone who says they don’t like fatty meat should, in my view, just give up on meat and become a veggie/pescatarian).
Cooked a medium/medium rare (ideally I would have gone rarer – Greg ” the Gurning Egg” Wallace would have no doubt said ” Too rare for me son“, as it hasn’t been carbonised by sitting in the Sun’s corona for an eon) this had an excellent flavour. Tasted properly lamby (have such a way with words me) this, with a surprisingly delicate herbiness to it and the seasoning bang on.
Lamb followed lamb, with a sumptious looking chop that was almost 40:60 meat to fat. Phwoar was my reaction to this ratio.
The fat had a crisp outer shell shielding a soft, yielding, core with bag loads of flavour.
The meat was cooked on point for me and the extra fat ramped up the flavour over the bone in t-bone (remember fat = flavour) These are the sort of things I would happy have piled up in front of me in a trough to gorge on!!
The underbelly/bedrock of Meat Fuji consisted of 3 decent sized bits of beef rump, all with a nice cap of crisp fat.
Cooked on the money, these were well flavoured and robustly seasoned (possibly a tad too robustly – they can never be accused of being frugal with the salt here).
This may have been (at least in part) due to me approaching Mr. Creosote levels of fullness by this stage, but I think I would have been even happier with 3 of the lamb chops and 1 piece of the rump rather than vice versa.
I thought the rump was a little overshadowed by the stellar lamb. It was very nice, but just didn’t have quite the depth of flavour of the lamb.
Having demolished the meat, I was left with some bread that had absorbed a fair amount of the juice from the meat sat atop it.
Whilst I was pretty much stuffed to the gills at this point, I manfully carried on with the bread undertaking mopping up duties.
Bloody lovely I have to say,
with my plate pretty much fully cleaned bar from a few residual bones.
All of that (quality too) for £22 in central London is frankly amazing. When you factor in they have their own herds (grass reared) in Cornwall, the price is even more amazing.
On the booze front they have a reputation for their cocktails, which are seemingly very nicely priced at between £6.50 (negroni) and £8 (white port cobbler), with plenty of choice.
Being an utter philistine, I am not a great consumer of cocktails (I am one of the few people on the planet never to have had a negroni).
I tend to always gravitate to the wine list and here there is a decent selection on tap, by the glass, carafe or bottle.
with the above a sample of what they have.
For London the prices are pretty reasonable. So, for example the Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia 2009 (lovely drop) generally retails (unless you are a Costco Member – for wine it is ace and worth the membership fee alone) at around the £30+ mark and is on the list here for £75 (at Arroz QD the same wine is an eyewatering £139 😱). At lower price points the mark ups are mostly still below 3 times (the Garantxa Negro, Herencia Alta, for instance, retails at £13 and is £34 on the list).
I decided on a glass of the Blacklock (house) syrah (a Saffer number – increasing enjoying Saffer wines these days), which was rich with dark fruit flavours and a touch of peppery spice.
Very pleasant, with the meatfest, and decent value.
Shame no sherries on the list (as far as I could see). I good oloroso would have been dynamite with the chops.
If you don’t fancy cocktails or wine,
there is a short beer and cider selection.
I don’t know if this passes the Gourmet Gorro “beer selection” test,
but I personally would have liked to have seen a sour or two on there (perfect for cutting through the fatty richness of all that meat).
Still water was supplied without prompting
and was replaced with a new one very promptly, which I like. It was really thirsty work levelling Meat Fuji I can tell you (I actually got through nearly 3 bottles!!!), with the robust seasoning of the meats
Services was very good, attentive without being intrusive and deserving of the 12.5% automatically added service charge (still don’t bloody like that practice mind).
Really enjoyed my meal here, which for the quantity and quality was an absolute steal.
I note on Mondays they do a seemingly even better offering, with Butcher’s Prices.
Not sure what that translates to exactly, but think it is around half price. If so, that sounds like a really good deal as a 1kg porterhouse would be £45!
Would I go back? Definitely, with top notch quality meat in huge quantities at a very pleasing price point who can resist these cheeky chops? Certainly not me, that’s for sure.
I didn’t feel the need to eat either dinner that night or lunch the next day (which makes it even more of a bargain and don’t we all need those in these inflationary times) and slumped into a food coma that evening as my body closed down all but essential functions in order to focus almost exclusively on digestion.
Thank the Lord the menu didn’t have a calorie count on it, which is a bloody stupid rule in any event !
Address: Great Windmill Street , Soho, London, W1G 7LG.
Also sites in Shoreditch and Covent Garden.