New Restaurant Blacklock Is Top Of The Chops
Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
To get your chops around something would usually mean to eat it, perhaps greedily. Although in the history of the Soho basement site which now hosts Blacklock, we’re sure it’s had some different meanings — it was formerly a longstanding and notorious brothel.
With Blacklock’s arrival the phrase becomes especially apt — but in the greedy, not seedy way. As a restaurant that specialises almost entirely in chops, it deals in a whole different kind of flesh.
The man at the helm is Gordon Ker, and all you really need to know about him is that he’s a veteran of the Hawksmoor group. Leaving steak to one side, he’s gone it alone to realise his vision of chops, cheap cocktails and cheesecake.
The space is pretty bare but charmingly so, with whitewashed brick walls, pillars-turned-blackboards, plain wood, bench-style tables and a ventilation-clad ceiling — so far, so cool.
The menu is minimalist, too. Mains are either beef chops, lamb chops or pork chops, priced at £4 a go or £15 for a generous pile of them — or just £11 for a pile of the pork. In the place of starters are just a few ‘pre-chop bites’ (£3 each), and then there are a number of sides at £1.50 a pop.
If there are two or more of you, we’d recommend the variety-enabling ‘All In’, which includes pre-chop bites, a large plate of mixed chops, flatbread and a side each for £20 a head.
The opening bites consist of round crispbreads piled with egg mayonnaise, anchovy and raw onion rings in one instance, and pickled vegetables and blue cheese in another — cheese and pickle, geddit? They’re not just quirky, but cleverly balanced, big-hitting flavours.
On to the main attraction, and the highly anticipated chops don't disappoint. They boast crispy and melting fat, a rich smoky char flavour and soft, juicy flesh — they’re as expertly cooked as you’d expect at a restaurant which has based its whole offering around them. The lamb chops, served a vibrant Barbie pink kind of rare, are our favourites. Tucked beneath the mountain of meat, our flatbread has soaked up their rich juices to become a soggy moist-maker of epic proportions — the carnivorous equivalent of buttery garlic bread.
Of the sides, charred courgettes with chicory and stilton is bold in its bitterness, while a sweet potato which has been roasted in ash for 10 hours is seductively musky. We’d have appreciated some more dippy options to stick our bread into or slather our chops with, but they’re not missed too much — the staff tell us more options are on the way, too.
Just when you think you’ve maxed out, Blacklock has another trick up its sleeve: white chocolate cheesecake. There’s no pudding listed on the menu, but your waiter will tip you off, and if given the nod of approval will bring it to the table to dole out, straight from the dish. It solves the problem of how to make something so brilliantly sloppy and gloopy look anything but a mess on a plate, but it’s also delightfully homely — as is the granny cup that carries a rhubarb compote to accompany it. The pud is rich but not too rich, sweet but not too sweet and almost as great a triumph as the chops.
A simple but smart approach to drinks sees wine on tap from £4 a glass, a few beers and a non-alcoholic nettle lemonade as well as one of its big draws — cocktails for a fiver. The list is short, but the liquid punchy, with an Old Fashioned refreshingly sparing on sweetness. This is one of the cocktails that’s also available by the bottle, coming in at £45 for 10 portions. Much like the epic piles of chops, it’s excellent value but you’d better bring your stamina.
Blacklock is at 24 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7LG
Last Updated 25 February 2015