Tuesday, September 11, 2012

McQueen, 5th September

I love it when things transpire in my favour (who wouldn’t?). McQueen was on my list and then lo and behold, a couple of months ago, Time Out had an offer for a discount on a meal there! What better excuse could I need to finally go and check it out?

I stumbled upon this place during one of my strolls through London and was intrigued by its location slightly off the beaten track of the Shoreditch triangle, and also its sleek look. I investigated what was on the inside and decided I wanted to try it.

McQueen, named for Steve McQueen has the lot – a restaurant, a bar and a downstairs club. Its design is supposed to emulate American cool, in homage to the coolest of cool cats, Steve McQueen himself. I think they do achieve the look they’re going for, the space is pleasing to be in, and the odd quirky, slightly gothic touch such as the candelabra or bizarre human tree sculpture gives the place a bit of personality. I do wonder if the clientele it attracts are quite what they had in mind – there were a lot of City types in there; young guys doing Sambucas on a Wednesday night and then patting themselves on the back after each one. (Well done guys, you can take a sugar hit.)

Sorry, poor quality picture!
The restaurant was pretty empty when we got there at a little before 7, but it did get busier through the course of our meal. Our voucher was for a meal for two, for £25 for three courses and a bottle of wine. What a bargain! It was of course a set menu, basically one choice for meat eaters and one for the veggies, so Stephen and I had the same as each other for our starter and main. This was, a salmon and haddock fishcake on a bed of lentils, and then the bavette with thrice cooked chips and a turnip puree.

The fishcake was good – nice and crisp batter on the outside with big flakes of fish inside, the lentils were cooked perfectly for me and it all tasted great. I could have eaten more of it. 

The bavette was decent but not the best steak I’ve ever had; it will take a long time for anything the beat the bavette at Vinoteca. We weren’t convinced that the chips were triple cooked, but they were fine as far as chips go, a little on the thin side. What really stole the show was the turnip puree. What a discovery! It was incredibly rich and pungent tasting, reminding me almost of truffles. Definitely miles above your normal creamed potato. When spooned onto the steak, it added a touch of luxury to every bite. This should be on more menus.

For our desserts Stephen and I diverged on choice. I had the chocolate fondant and he had the pecan pie. At first he proclaimed his very good, but then he decided that it could have been more moist. I certainly didn’t have that problem with my fondant, which oozed as a good fondant should, the moment I pierced it with my spoon. Stephen had food envy and with good reason. My dessert was rich, gooey, warm and tasty.

I asked for the bill even though we had prepaid and she said ‘no bill, you’ve paid already’. I had thought they might present us with one so that they could charge us for service and I was interested to see if it would be 12.5% on our voucher price, or what the meal would have cost normally. The fact that they did not even give us a bill was a big plus for them, and inclined me to leave a tip anyway.

We then went next door for a drink. The drinks were a leetle pricey but not too far above the average for Shoreditch. I enjoyed the setting despite the Suits, and we had a couple of seats at the bar, which is my favourite place to sit. The only seats available in fact as even though no one else in the bar was sitting down, they had festooned all available sitting surfaces with their bags and accessories. We only stayed out for one drink, as we had unexpectedly ended up drinking both the night before and the night before that so the visit was brief but enjoyable.

I don’t know if this will make it into my repertoire of regular drinking establishments, but it is very close to XOYO so good to bear in mind for drinks beforehand if I’m going there. And of course, they have clubnights themselves which I plan to try out some time as well. 

McQueen on Urbanspoon

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