Monday, 21 October 2013

Soho Diner: a chip off the old block

Just another diner. Not different, just better.

Diners are like London buses because they're FRICKIN' everywhere. I went past about five on my way down Old Compton Street to the Soho Diner, including several I've already reviewed (like Ed's Easy Diner). And when you're not tripping over diner-themed restaurants, you're walking headlong into trendy burger bars. It's ridiculous.

And I love it. And I also love the Soho Diner. I was as hungover as one of Michael Barrymore's party guests on Saturday and still I finished that burger. True, I had to duck out to the loo twice just to be safe, but I was determined to get through it.

What the diner has so cleverly done is recreate was the McDonald's burger is in our heads before we actually eat it. The patties are thin but rare, the sauce thick and sticky, the cheese so gloopy it sticks to your throat, and all in a sweet brioche bun that feels cheap but so, so good. Perhaps sensing my hangover shakes (or simply smelling the alcohol) they asked if I'd like bacon and eggs on my burger. Ambitiously I said that sounded excellent. It made it seem more like brunch, which is a good, hearty thing to eat when suffering the drinker's withdrawal. The bacon was something else, about 2cm thick and rammed with sweet honey and gammon flavours. And then the egg was perfect and runny, but perfectly circular, just like the crap McDonald's ones.

If all that sounds a little too sycophantic don't read the rest, because I haven't even started on the milkshake - pistachio and honeycomb. Oh my days. If I'd sicked it up I'd have probably tried again it was that good.

Having ranted about the food, the location seems somewhat moot, but it is rather nice. Very spacious and wooden, with cocktails on tap and a decent enough beer list (could do better Soho House, could do better). There was even a European-like gathering of probably-older-than-you-think guys in leather jackets drinking beer from stemmed glasses outside, despite the freakish weather and an enormous delivery truck (probably needed for the extra thick bacon) blocking their view of the street. This is why I have no picture of the outside.

There are some pretty shoddy reviews of the Soho Diner on the usual customer websites. They're hardly a barometer for good food, but I am baffled. It's not changing the world, but Soho House (who run the place along with Chicken Shop, Dirty Burger, PizzaEast and Dean Street Townhouse) never try too. They just nail it. Whoever is at the top knows what the public want, and from a diner it's trashy food done in style, in a place where they would want to come at any time of day. It's open 'til 3am at the weekend, so I know where I'm going when caught short and drunk in Soho. Hopefully I won't need loo breaks at that point.

Soho Diner on Urbanspoon

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