Going out to eat can be a joy and a disaster all at the same time. So often we spend our hard earned cash on what we believe will be (potentially) the best meal of our lives or, at the very least a damn good crack at it. But as we’re all too aware the majority of meals out lack anything close to perfection and often leave us wishing we’d just turned on the oven and pulled something out of that Jamie Oliver cookbook thats been gathering dust on the shelf. Thats where I come in, Mr.Gourmand. I’m a (slightly) younger, hungrier version of those wonderful people called food critics like Mr.Jay Rayner and co. Now there’s nothing wrong with these people, none what so ever. In fact I’ve been a fan of Mr.Rayners for many years. But like many I found myself wanting a less fluffy, more to the point answer about if the grub was up to scratch or not. Thats where I come in. No fuss, honest answers and a whole lot of spiel about restaurants of all shapes and sizes all over the country.
The Gun, Shoreditch
Address: 54 Brushfield St, Spitalfields, London E1 6AG
First up, a late dinner at The Gun in trendy Shoreditch. From the outside it looks like your typical elegant cosmopolitan food establishment were you can get some decent grub, well presented and inviting with a certain buzz that draws you in, even from the other side of the street. On entering we were greeted by, well, no one. After standing around for a few minutes I was forced to asked the lovely barmaid if we could be seated. We were whisked through the bar into a small dining area and shown to a private booth which was well designed and spacious, although getting anymore than three people in would be a struggle.
Decor and ambiance overall were mesmerising with a cocktail bar sheik mixed with the ever unmistakable cool of Shoreditch in the restaurant, aided by low lighting and cosy interiors that fitted perfectly with humming activity and customers (even on a Tuesday night).
Our waiter was enthusiastic and well mannered, which is always a great start, and took our drinks orders which was a simple bottle of the house white Villa Del Fiori Pecorino – smooth with a punch of fresh citrus, it was a pleasure to drink and a great recommendation.
After a few moments our food order was taken. Now, the menu isn’t huge, but that isn’t always an issue, if its done well, and I’m happy to say this menu had some tasty little twists.
Myself and my guest ordered a starter of popcorn chicken with sriracha mayo and togarashi spices. Despite the name, no its not like the popcorn chicken in KFC (luckily) they were in fact moist and full of flavour, each mouthful was pleasure and supported well by the slightly firing dipping sauce. The second starter was the honey & soy pork ribs with a ginger, seasame and apple fennel slaw. All I can say is bravo. Well balanced, succulent and pounding with flavour these may have just been the best ribs I’ve ever had (in the UK), period. Now normally I find starters tend to lean on the generous side which for a lot of people is a great thing, you bunch of overeaters! But these were not! They were the perfect size to warm up the engine and get you ready for the main event.
Onto the main course, as I said above, yes the portions were a good size for the starters but for us the mains arrived slightly too early, it was as if they were refusing to allow us a moments rest between courses, but lets not moan about speed. We decided to sample the Chicken & Pancetta Roulade and the 8oz FlatIron Steak with a side of tenderstem broccoli. I asked our lovely waiter if the Roulade needed to have a side with it to which I was told that I looked hungry, so yes. Big mistake. It was a gargantuan plate of food that seemed impossible to finish, even for me, and the tenderstem side was more a main course by itself. The roulade itself was well prepared, the chicken was tender and well cooked with a substantial filling. The best part for me however was the parmentier potatoes and celeriac puree, perfect! Absolutely nailed it. But thats were it ended. The steak was ok, flavourless but well cooked, it lacked any wow factor and definitely could have done with more seasoning. Unfortunately we also never got to sample the desserts – quite possibly my favourite part of any meal out – as we were told that the kitchen had closed for the night.
Overall The Gun was a good restaurant with what I would call posh pub grub. But I wouldn’t say it was anything outstanding or overly memorable, but an experience none the less. I believe that is has potential, room to grow and develop its offering further. Perhaps we made the wrong choice with the plates we chose or perhaps it just simply lacks some originality? My personal thoughts are that its exterior and interior exudes elegance, but is let down slightly by a lack of substance. Now, I’m not trying to become some new ‘Simon Cowell of the food world’ or the next A. A. Gill and by no means is this a bad review, its honest, as I promised, but facts still stand. The Gun isn’t anything special, I’ve dined at a thousand restaurants and pubs all over the country that are the same as that very meal I had, and in some cases probably better. Now I’d like to note that all those restaurants and/or pubs are still open to this day. But the question remains, in this difficult time the food industry is experiencing and diners having ever more options offset by people dining out less, is middle of the road good enough?
Popcorn Chicken & Honey Soy Ribs: £8 each
8oz Flatiron Steak: £15
Chicken & Pancetta Roulade: £15.50