A drink in Lockharts bar downstairs proved a hit. Rather simple, but raw and stripped back which actually gave added a nice little southern edge. Cocktails were suitably delicious and the heavily oaked American chardonnay was not only a bargain – but darn right delicious. Along with an army of waiters who look as though they just fell off the catwalk. Grilled chicken oysters are a sinful bowl of chicken morsels doused in an incredibly potent and sharp yellow mustard sauce. A good start, but hardly showstopping.
Yet another shiny new restaurant has come to Marylebone, this time in the form of modern, southern style Lockhart, who opened their doors last year. But why are you only hearing about it now? Well, its all down to the arrival of its new chef, Mississippi born Brad McDonald. For southern food in London, he really is the chef right now. No doubt he’ll be in popular demand. Lockhart only three months ago was relatively quiet and unheard of. Now you’ll be lucky to get a table. I dined on a Tuesday evening and as many people sitting down to eat, were also being refused a table – there just wasn’t a free table in sight.
To add to my surprisingly short list of best breads in London, Lockhart definitely deserve a place – even if it was for the unusualness of it. The corn bread which they serve here is like something from another planet – its otherworldly delicious. Cooked and served in hot cast iron dish, bubbling away at the side produces a bread like no other. Shiny, spongy and verging with its sweetness towards a dessert. Its delicious qualities did however make it ever apparent how bad it was for you. I could feel the calories, slowly settling in on my thighs.
A humble buttermilk wedge salad was a huge chunk of iceberg lettuce taken to new heights and finished off with some chopped egg, crispy bacon bits and of course this decadent, yet fresh and creamy buttermilk dressing. If i wanted to pretend i was on a diet, this would be my dish of choices.
Our other starter was perhaps the lowest point of our meal. Yet it made a nice change. Tokyo turnips were warm and immensely juicy pouring themselves out all over the plate. Their flavour was very deliciate and so was everything else on the plate. Country ham had a touch of smokiness but was barely detectable. It made a cheap parma ham taste like pata negra in comparison.
Star course of the evening was the stuffed and glazed quail. It may look rather simple, but of it’s rather deceiving. A cut through this perfectly cooked, full flavoured quail released a filling of Carolina gold rice which is mixed with the quail offel and spices, aka ‘dirty rice’. It was the dish of a whet foodie dream. Each mouthful was full of flavour and rich to the point i now know what gluttony really felt like. Its veg and gravy were equally as impressive.
The smoked old spot pork belly served in a rather large bowl sat on a mixture of collard greens and black eyed beans all swimming in a thin, translucent broth. It all felt somewhat oriental in presentation. It was all very well cooked but tasted like so many pork belly dishes i’ve had before. Yes, no one really uses black eyed beans or collard but compared with all the other food Lockhart is serving, it didn’t quite feel ‘dirty’ enough.
An unusual lemon meringue pie which was half meringue, half cheesecake was all well made, and had a nice flavour – but it was all just ‘nice’. The buttery crumbs were actually rather delicious, the thick lemon ice cream on top was less exciting and the well toasted meringue shell was just that, well toasted. I have a huge sweet tooth and this just didn’t cut it.
Apparently no one dining at Lockhart quite has the room for dessert, so i think it came as a surprise to our waiter. And after sampling a couple of the puddings on offer, i can’t quite see why i would bother ordering them again. A bowl of “calasa” (similar to doughnuts) were good, but not a show stopper. A small pool of chocolate sauce sat in the bottom of the bowl and added little excitement and not enough chocolate for dipping.
I came to Lockhart with extremely high expectations. Just before dining i read two very positive reviews and for the most part of them i agree, except for desserts. I am a little disappointed i had room for dessert, because after my last mouthful of guinea fowl – i was a very happy diner. Lockhart certainly know what they’re doing, with an impeccable consistency in the kitchen from the dishes. Perhaps puddings aren’t their thing. But if not, get rid of them or get someone else in to do them because for me, it’s the end of the meal i remember most.