Review: Blacklock, Soho

5 mins read

The thing you might already know about Blacklock is that it does chops. That’s its Thing, and it’s probably the first restaurant to centre itself around that concept in London, despite the plethora of barrel-scraping gimmicks and idiosyncrasies across the restaurant scene.

I say ‘probably the first’ because I know that Whitechapel’s Tayyabs is famed for its chops, but I secretly suspect that the fervour fans have for its food is driven not by its quality but by the fact it hearkens from 1972, an era in London’s history when greasy spoons and pubs seem to have been responsible for most of the city’s eating out.

Blacklock does ‘skinny chops’ for £4 a go (mostly pork); and ‘fat chops’ starting at £5 per 100g (for a pork chop) and ending at £8 per 100g (for Porterhouse or prime rib of beef). When we went, it was ‘Butcher Price Monday’, which meant that all of these bigger fat chop pieces were cut to £5 per 100g, which is how much it would allegedly cost us at the butcher (or more precisely, their butcher, Philip Warren’s in Cornwall).

It also does a few snacks—little crackers, priced at £1 each, with something like duck rillettes with kimchi or anchovies and egg—£5 cocktails including a solid Old Fashioned, a take on the French 75, and an Aperol Negroni (sweeter and less bitter than the regular Campari version). The snacks are pretty good little bites, satisfying if unspectacular in flavour.

Snacks: dripping ham, cheese and pickle, egg and anchovy & duck rillette and apple kimchi
Snacks: dripping ham, cheese and pickle, egg and anchovy & duck rillette and apple kimchi

And it also does sides and special Sunday offerings that we didn’t try. The sides were all excellent. Kale and parmesan was a few soft dark green leaves with a bit of bite and covered in incredibly salty-savoury flavour. The blood orange and meat radish salad was crunchy, bitter and sweet. The 10-hour ash-roasted sweet potato was special: soft, mashed texture sweet potato on the inside with a crispy bark of a deep black ashy flavour; somehow it works. The chips were as good as beef dripping chips always are—why use anything else to fry your potato?

The blood orange salad and the kale with parmesan
The blood orange salad and the kale with parmesan

We got an 800g sirloin and a 1.2kg prime rib, for a total of £100 between five. It was about enough food for a regular person, combined with the sides, but perhaps not enough for someone as greedy as me. Given the weight taken up by the bone on each, I’d probably order somewhat more: this gave each person about four thick slices of beef. These slabs come detached from the bone (which itself has a good bit of meat for chewing) and in neat meaty slabs.

We had the sirloin medium rare and the prime rib medium. The rib was the better of the two, incredibly tender, light pink and with morsels and lines of melting near-liquid fat. The sirloin had a bit more beefiness but much less of the juicy fatty give, and took a little slicing.

Rib of beef

In a city that’s getting ever more expensive, central Soho joints that offer affordable dinners are extremely welcome, and anywhere that offers a satisfying meal for £20-25 without drinks and service is to be lauded. Add in £5 cocktails and the place is special. Blacklock has a niche, rather than a gimmick—properly grilling and roasting nice bits of meat for a reasonable price—and it fills it really well. Gordon Ramsay was even there at the next table with his pals when we went along—he’s surprisingly tall and good-looking in person!

Rating: One medal. See a map of all the restaurants we recommend in Soho and elsewhere.

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