temper: Neil Rankin's new BBQ beast

Last week I was lucky enough to head down to the soft launch of mega-BBQer Neil Rankin's new place, temper. A super sleek entrance on the corner of Broadwick Street in Soho was welcome relief from the absolute pouring rain and we were soon greeted by warming smells of open fire cooking as we headed down in to the basement kitchen and dining room. It's amazingly still light down there, thanks to large glass panels but in the centre of the room you can be in a barbecue world of your own, entirely focused on the meat in front of you. We sat as close as we could to the action (why sit anywhere else in my opinion) and had ours eyes transfixed on the chefs and coals at work in front of us throughout our whole meal. 

We ordered tacos to start with, on a great suggestion by our waiter and of course had one of each (apart from the burger, which I must go back for) as well as some drinks. The drinks need to spoken about on their own.

Irn Bru.

Irn Bru Spritz

Irn Bru Spritz

So that's that then. No, but seriously, irn bru literally on the menu on the softs option and in spritz form. Of course we ordered both options! I'm not here to 'review' an irn bru but as an aperitvo spritz? Hell yes I'll say it's damn good. I was off the sauce and so enjoyed a refreshing apple-grapefruit spritz that was just on the right side of bitter for me. As you know, #IHaveThisThingWithGlassware, and these guys were as thin as you can GET. Big fan of the thin stem on that wine glass too. 

Tacos!

Tacos!

This also gives you a good glimpse into the kitchen and of course, the capped Neil, working in the background as he does every day (props, chef). The tacos arrived soon after and these were incredible. I've never had a proper corn taco and these were wonderfully substantial and held the toppings really well, if a little thick and chewy (but maybe they're supposed to be - I don't know!). My particular favourite had to be the crab and pickled onion pork skin - I mean, just look at that description for a minute and tell me you don't want it straight away?! They all come with 2 per portion so are pretty perfect for sharing to start and they all come as soon as they're ready so you're never pushed for space - helpful especially if you're sat on the central bench. We kept hold of our menu's throughout the meal and ordered when we were ready for the next lot of food (probably a luxury only a soft-launch can provide) but we loved it as we could see how full we were after the tacos and get more if we wanted, which, of course we did. 

MEAT & sides...

MEAT & sides...

So again, ordered one of everything, bar the kofte. All the meat comes in 100g portions with varying cuts, all served on a flatbread. All three options, beef, pork and lamb, looked incredible- and we could see it on the bone being cut off before us! My favourite was the pork, it just fell apart and had such a wonderful flavour, I was thinking about it long after we left. We'd ordered some sides too but while we were half way through we suddenly realised we hadn't ordered any sprinkles or sauces! Perhaps it would've been nice to have it explained; where the waiters would've suggested they'd be nice to have but we soon clocked on and after making make-shift wraps with our meat, flatbreads and sides we knew that the MSG ketchup and the peanut and lime zest crunchy onions were made for it and they arrived straight away. Can we just take a second to say how great it is to see 'sprinkles' as an option on a menu? More of this please, world. 

The side dishes were probably the things I was most looking forward to and if I'm ever in need of quick, delicious grub I'll dash in for a taco and one of these for a stupendously good-value quick bite. We had szechuan autumnal greens, grilled corn with lamb fat butter, mint and yellow chilli and also an order of beef fat potatoes with raclette. All three were wonderful but my favourite had to be the greens. It was the perfect bite of freshness between all the meat and was seasoned to perfection. 

Butterscotch kouign amann with offending teaspoon...

Butterscotch kouign amann with offending teaspoon...

After all this, you may think we were too full for dessert but I hope you realised that that could never happen and so we ordered one of my favourite desserts - a kouign amann. It came with Dulche de Leche ice cream of the smoothest variety which was awesomely topped up throughout the pud by chef Martin who we had a great chat with throughout our meal. Eating it with a teaspoon was legitimately impossible but hey, I'm not fussy when it comes to sugar so basically ate it with my hands. Thank goodness we were the last in or I'd have had to apologise to fellow diners. Quick shoutout to whoever chose the crockery too: those plates are Stunning (capital intended).

I normally don't write about places based on the soft launch, as I don't think it's entirely fair to base somewhere after only have a few services but with temper, it was that good I just had to. I can't wait for another visit with some slightly different taco flavours but I'd honestly go back tomorrow if I could. The service was awesome, the chefs all lovely to talk to and so passionate about what they're doing, also quite nice to look at if I may say so? 

Soho has a lot of great restaurants but this, fills a void we didn't know it had. Congrats to the whole temper team. Go eat! Go drink! Get the bloody irn bru! 

Square Meal

Place of the Month: Dandy Cafe

Carrots with something lovely and octopus with something equally lovely... #greatcaption

Carrots with something lovely and octopus with something equally lovely... #greatcaption

This month it's my favourite cafe in a railway arch, Dandy Cafe. I've told enough people to go here so it's about time I wrote about it and sung its praises for all of you too! Opened just over a year ago behind London Fields station near the park, since then they've gone from strength to strength and are now a firm favourite with Hackney residents. Founded by Dan and Andy (surprise) and a third cool dude, G, these guys have transformed the inside of this container to be one of the most beautiful spaces we've got round here. Anyone will tell you how much a Hackney lass loves some natural wood and pastel colours but these guys have added just the right amount of foliage to keep it cool as. My favourite corner has to be the slightly hidden wine selection where the boys' have shelves of every wine you could imagine. Natural takes precedent with some incredible whites, reds and oranges to take your fancy. I'll often go and have a look at the bottles for the design alone; some of them are truly beautiful but for choosing, I tend to just say to the guys or one of their awesome wait staff how I'm feeling and they always pick out something perfect. On my last birthday meal, they even converted the most non-natural-wine-drinker by giving us a lighter red which still worked so well with our food. 

The food itself is always a winner; whether you go for brunch, lunch or dinner you won't be disappointed. It changes all the time with whatever awesome things Dan's got from his producers but the one thing that I'm uber grateful that has returned for a second winter is their bagna cauda. I could do a post on that alone, it's that good. Salty anchovies and butter with warming garlic and the perfect sourdough or crudités to dip in it make it probably my absolute favourite sauce/dip of all time. That's saying something right? Served lovingly in a giant bowl for the whole table to enjoy at dinner, I even managed to get it in on a recent brunch trip - drizzled over eggs... See how versatile it is?! They have plenty of awesome vegcentric dishes too and plenty for those with a sweet tooth - the french toast is next level. 

Bagna cauda fried eggs: stuff of DREAMS

Bagna cauda fried eggs: stuff of DREAMS

The vibe is neighbourhood familiarity with all the casual trappings that come with that- great personal service and a huge smile from everyone as you walk in, whether you've been once or a few too many times. Even writing this now is making me want to pop in for a coffee tomorrow! That's another selling point: these Aussies know their coffee. Only grinding a serving at a time, their filter is top notch. It's a great place to sit and work on something for a couple of hours or to take a group of adventurous friends for a meal they won't forget. Keep an eye on their Insta/Twitter feed @dandycaf to make sure they're open when you fancy going as sometimes they close for private functions. I'd also definitely book at the weekend if you're more than a 2 - ya don't wanna miss out!