Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Blackhouse and The Big Easy

I love trying new restaurants, whether new for me or new for London generally.

First up, my parents and I visited Blackhouse on Smithfield Market for dinner on a Saturday evening. The restaurant has a really casual, relaxed vibe although some of the other diners were dressed up for a Saturday night on the town while I was in leggings and a t-shirt. There was a real mix of families, older couples and a few younger groups at the start of their evenings so I guess we fitted in with the mixed crowd. 

The cocktails were two-for-one (a special in the restaurant for the Easter weekend but they are usually 241 just at the bar, fyi) so Mummy Lipstick and I tried the English martini and a classic cosmopolitan - both were very good.I hadn't had a cosmo for a while and it reminded me how much I like them despite them maybe now being a bit naff.

We skipped starters as we were starving and went straight to the mains. Mummy Lipstick had the burger with stilton (as an extra) which she said was very good. I stole a couple of chips from the mini fryer basket they were served in, they were super hot (nothing worst than luke-warm chips) and nicely salty. I feel like I have had my share of burgers of late so had the goats cheese salad which I didn't regret - it was fresh and tasty but still filling and I didn't feel too envious of the burger or of Daddy Lipstick's steak and chips (less photogenic but he said the steak was very good).

Service was fast and super-friendly. I find service in London often falls flat for being too aloof or overly attentive (asking if everything is ok every five minutes does not good service make) but Blackhouse got it spot on. We were sat at a huge table in the corner rather than being squeezed onto a table for two which far too many restaurants try to fob you off with as a party of three. My parents were very impressed so I hope we'll be back soon (especially as I signed up to their mailing list and can get 25% our next visit).

Next up, The Big Easy. Having recently opened a Covent Garden branch The Big Easy is yet another American-themed restaurant although rather than focusing solely on burgers TBE offers lobster, crab and BBQ as well as a rather extensive selection of bourbons (although the drinks menu in the restaurant seemed to focus more on novelty "slushie" cocktails):

Hannah and I waited at the bar, snacking on some pretzels until our "full party" arrived and we could be seated. The restaurant is huge and spread across two levels. It feels quite dark inside so I was pleased that our table was by a window (Instagram pictures require light after all).

Sarah's pulled pork.  I loved how this was served with the sides in separate little bowls. The portion of pulled pork was huge and TBE were happy to pack it up in a doggy bag which I saw other diners requesting too, especially the ones who had ordered the giant BBQ platters...

Aisling's BBQ ribs. This was a huge portion! Again, nicely presented with the fries in a little bucket - I pinched a few and they were good. I'm not usually a fan of thick chips but these were crispy and super salty which gets my approval.

I chose the lobster salad - it looked super impressive presented in a lobster shell. There wasn't a huge amount of lobster meat but it had been prepared so saved the effort of having to take the meat out of the claws. The salad itself was a generous portion and tasted nice and fresh. If you've not had lobster before and don't want an entire one or the hassle of figuring out how to eat one, this would be a great "gateway lobster" and while almost £17 seems a lot for a salad lobster ain't cheap and the burgers and lobster roll don't come with sides so it works out about the same as having a burger and fries at TBE.

The restaurant was busy on a Saturday afternoon but a late lunchtime of 2.30pm worked out well. Service was fast but not super slick, our dishes didn't all arrive at the same time but we were left to chat away without being rushed from our table - our waiter seemed very rushed while three front of house staff stood at the door to welcome diners which is maybe a little unnecessary in a casual restaurant. I did enjoy TBE and the company was great (as always) but I'm not in a rush for a return visit - perhaps if I ate pork I'd have more choices to work my way through on the menu and I did feel that it was a little over-priced and aimed at out-of-towners looking for a "London" / "American" eating experience with the huge portions and novelty cocktails.

Have you tried Blackhouse or The Big Easy? Are you looking forward to whatever the "next" eating trend will be?


  1. These both look awesome, that lobster looks pretty tasty!

    Maria xxx

  2. Where else can we try on our list lily?!


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