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Dead Dolls House – Sunday Dinners

25 Mar
After a bit of a hiatus, call it research, I’m back and have lots to say!
Recently I went to Dead Doll’s House, don’t let the name fool you, it isn’t paying homage to a deathly childhood, or any such matter. It’s a very cleverly designed building, with lots of levels and separate rooms, littered with marker pen drawings all over the walls, an example being an entire fireplace complete with mantel piece and all the accessories artistically interpreted. Most of the tables are communal, with mismatching chairs and there’s a wonderful faux-grass roof terrace too, complete in the sense that it’s a perfect sun trap.-1What really inspired me after chatting with the creator, is that it isn’t a set restaurant, it has pop-ups and innovative ideas, like ‘Picnic In The Conservatory’. The offer is to prepay for your meal and then come to a sitting, so there’s no fuss on the day.

The ideas are great, the decor and the lighting are exceptional. A kitsch affair with secret rooms and a vintage cocktail feel. It’s in prime position on Hoxton Square and what they have accomplished in terms of innovation and ideas is formidable.

I therefore had high hopes when I signed up for their ‘Sunday Dinners’. I prepaid £25 for a four course set menu. They use a rotation system, so each Sunday a different meat is used. For the Sunday I attended, it was the beef menu. This particular pop-up is run by Checkon. A company managed by Terry Edwards & George Craig.

sunday dinners menuWe started off with The Cheesy Fingers, described above. It arrived in a small paper box, three large fingers and a little pot of sweet chilli to dip. The bread-crumbed outer layer was well executed, it was light, crispy and not too oily. All in all, very well maintained. The inside was a welcome comfort, and tasted very cheesy. Unfortunately I couldn’t really taste the jalapeno, pale ale or beef dripping, although you could sense there was something more than just cheese inside. It was enjoyable, however there was nothing not to like. It was a simple dish, like cheese sticks, but a little fancier. Comfort food, done well, but not out of this world.

cheesy fingersOnto the next course. This was the ‘Beef Leaves.’ Herefordshire beef, baby gem, chilli, ginger, coriander, cashew, spring onions and horseradish. The presentation was aesthetically pleasing. Filled with bright colours and a promise of an exotic taste, this was the bonus course, so my palate was expecting something of note. Unfortunately, a disappointment. The first thing was that the use of coriander was overbearing and all consuming, just too much to cope with, so much so that the diner to my left had to start picking it out, as it felt like a whole mouthful of coriander with each bite. The consistency of the beef wasn’t pleasant. It was chewy, slimy and if the other flavours were there, they were lost by the Goliath of coriander. My tongue was buzzing after this dish from the herb infusion. With expectations down, we were praying the third course could show signs of improvement.corainder beefThis was supposed to be the pièce de résistance, the main course, the big attraction. Roast sirloin of Herefordshire beef, yorkies, truffled roasties, greens, roast parsnips and gravy. I think I’m most disappointed by this dish as the beauty should have been in its simplicity. A roast is a wonder of comfort and simplicity, but done badly and it can be a mess of overcooked and under seasoned food. Here’s where I felt it went wrong. The beef was too thick, chewy, lacked taste and was presented badly. It felt precooked and reheated as it had a greyish hue to it, not evident with freshly roasted, browned beef. The parsnip (yes only one) was good, but not crispy on the outside. The Yorkshire pudding was a sorry attempt. It was flooded with oil at the bottom and as I took a bite I was essentially having a gulp of cooking oil. An oversight and a poor attempt. The greens, were chopped cabbage, ok but plain and a little bitter. The insult of the whole plate had to be the ‘truffled roasties’. This was worse than a school dinner. The potatoes tasted nothing short of stale. Overcooked, chewy, and for want of a better description, old. The gravy added to the school dinner effect and hammered home that little effort or thought had been put int the recipe, or cooking session and far more into the PR, as the description was far more appetising. A really awful attempt at a roast dinner. When you’re competing with every Tom, Dick and Harry of pubs, you need to pull off something better than that, or at least pull off something. The diners sharing our table had the same view as us, they were the ones that branded this as a haunting reminder of a bad school dinner.

roast beefWith an unsatisfied belly and the promise of a delicious sounding dessert, I felt a little hesitant to say the least. Mousse, hazelnuts, cake, milkshake, raspberry, mint and biscuits. I had wondered how that much would be incorporated into one plate. The presentation was faultless. Well thought out and looked minimalistic, modern and appetising. Once again, it didn’t even come close to the mark, I’m very sorry to say. The best part of it was a quenelle of chocolate mousse, it was adequate, nothing mouth-watering, but just ok. The (dried) raspberry and biscuits, perhaps the hazelnuts too, but I can’t be sure as I couldn’t taste any hazelnut, were crushed in a line and other than a twinge of flavour from the raspberry, it was pretty tasteless. The milkshake, was at room temperature, not chilled, which straight away made it quite off-putting, and it wasn’t sweet enough. It likened to just cocoa powder and milk. The cake seemed like a muted, factory sealed slice, that you can by from any Lidl with a lacklustre gloop on top. The freeze dried mint on top when eaten with anything else was nondescript and so I sampled some on it’s own and it was as if I had squeezed toothpaste into my mouth. An unwelcome end to a disappointing meal.
dessertAccompanying our meal and the best part of the whole experience had to be the cocktails. We chose Amaretto Sours, they were well made and tasted truly wonderful. If this had been a liquid lunch, this review would have been very different and I’m sure the photos a little blurry.
cocktailsI’m a huge fan of the space, the drinks and the ideas, I really am, but when you have the right lingo, the execution on promotion down to a tee, don’t for one second take your eyes off the prize, that being the food. It isn’t good enough, it wasn’t thought through and it didn’t taste good. And what an absolute shame, as in theory it is brilliant. I’ll be back to The Doll’s House, but not for Sunday Dinners.
Rate: 1.5
Dead Doll’s House
35 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NN
Follow them on Twitter @DeadDollsHouse @DeadDollsClub

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Patty & Bun

7 Aug

Why do I fall for it? I always get sucked into the hype! But this time I had received personal recommendations, on top of the usual ‘blah blah’ hype put upon me in the press…I feel tricked!

Patty & Bun has received no end of critical acclaim for its mildly alternative burgers using the best of British ‘wherever possible’ what does that mean? What are the criteria for this? All of the time or none of the time please!

So, on a mild Tuesday night I decided to attempt it. On the walk over I passed MEATliquor and was haunted by the last experience of waiting in line for an overhyped, underwhelming burger. ‘No, I thought, my trusted friends couldn’t be wrong! I must queue.’ Well…I hereby vow to NEVER do that again.

We queued for around 45/50 minutes having arrived at about 6:45pm, thankfully I’d had a snack before arriving or I would have been giving evils to the people in front, while they wondered who the hungry psycho was behind them…

The guy organizing the queue; taking names, making rough estimates on waiting times etc was fine. Perfectly polite and friendly.

outsideWhen we finally got in, early noughties pop I thought had been banished to the ‘I cant believe you owned that cd’ music pile blared. I didn’t know if they were trying to be ironic or what the deal was. The first song was Craig David ‘Fill Me In.’ Now, I like a bit of retro prap (pop/crap, I just invented it now) but there’s a time and a place and this is not it.

We sat down, the menus had already been placed on the table and there was a choice of six burgers that all sounded really good. I went for the ‘Ari Gold’ for one it seemed like the signature burger and b) I’m a sucker for Entourage! It was beef patty, cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickled onions, ketchup, smokey P&B mayo, brioche. Along with this I had the ‘rosemary’ fries. The reason I’m using air quotes as if rosemary isn’t a real thing is because I could see flecks of something dried and dark green occasionally appear on some of the chips, like a bit of dirt you want to brush away, however no taste of ‘rosemary’ appeared. Not once. Effectively they thought that ‘fries’ on its own wasn’t interesting enough. It is.

A dinner tray packed with our wrapped up burgers and fries in cups arrived. This is clearly a no frills sort of gaff and plates would be seen less as a necessity and more as work. This makes me livid. It is a sit down restaurant, not a fast food chain, table service not buying from a counter at a cart and the chronic amount of waste produced by this restaurant of unnecessary, unrecyclable waste is appalling. Shameful in fact.

burger

unwrapped

The burger itself was in a greasy bun with oozing cheese, it looked appealing in a gluttonous sort of way, but just wasn’t good. There wasn’t enough bite to it, the sauce wasn’t satisfying at all and the shredded pickled onions tasted of nothing, merely a filler. The tomato tasted of nothing as did the beef. It didn’t taste like it had been seasoned and it is also served very pink. Fine by me, but they ought to let you know.

bite

After finishing it took a while for our tray to be cleared, in the meantime the people next to us who had shared our table had left. The useless waitress who looked like she was wearing her hipster one night stand’s  t-shirt, fished out of some pile on the floor and was very casually trying to pass of this walk/work of shame as actual clothing you would wear, started to spray/clean the table and push my elbows with the dirty rag. I was still sitting there! It was so unbelievably rude!!! She must have realised that it was a bit ridiculous as she looked up and said ‘Would you like some ice cream?’ Whilst still holding the spray and the rag, like some kind of strange afterthought. We declined. She hovered as I know she wanted me to ask for the bill, but I was still finishing my drink, was very full and seeing as I had waited for a substantial amount of time, I think I had earned my seat in this establishment.

Other waitresses/waiters approached our table no less than five times over the course of the next ten minutes and there were plenty of spare seats at this stage even though the queue was still long outside. After the third interruption I asked for the bill, with relief the brat went and fetched it. We were splitting it over two cards. She used that touch thing on my card I always forget I have, so I had no way of approving the amount charged and no receipt was given. After taking the payments with no thank you or anything, not even a nod, she walked off. So, no receipt, no thank you, nothing. We sat there for a further couple of minutes finishing drinks and packing our wallets away and were again approached twice. A way of avoiding this Mr Patty & Bun is to either make it explicitly clear that customers are to sit down/shut up/eat very quickly and get the hell out or 2) take reservations. No? Didn’t think so. The first would probably mean that your nazi style catering would have you shut down and the second would mean that your hype would no longer be there. The best advertising is the fact you have these mindless hoards outside (yup, me included). I think some people might have joined the queue not even knowing what it was for, we are English after all.

Overall, a pile of toss. Sorry to be so frank but I don’t really care.

Rate: 1

Patty & Bun

54 James Street, london W1U 1HE

020 7487 3188

http://www.pattyandbun.co.uk/

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