Mr. and Ms. Smith are a couple of fellow hedonists and now regular contributors to the Hg2 Blog. Their identities? A mystery. We’ll be bringing you their restaurant reviews each and every week. This week the couple brave the quiff-sporting locals of the East End to check out The Hoxton Grill.
Read Mr. & Ms. Smith’s last review here
Check out Mr & Ms Smith’s blog here
The Hoxton Grill, Hoxton Hotel
81 Great Eastern Street, EC2A
Ms. Smith: Hamburgers. So hard to get right, so easy to get wrong. When I first moved to this country in the mid-70’s, the UK had a distant relationship with the humble burger. There was the local Wimpy that served a circle of something resembling an animal byproduct within two pieces of bread, but it wasn’t what I would call a burger – not to this New York girl anyway. I remember sometime shortly after landing on British soil going to my first Wimpy burger bar off Marble Arch. I got food poisoning and never returned. A year or two after that, I discovered a place called Wolfes on Park Lane that served a decent burger, then another place somewhere on Beauchamp Place, now long gone. I even once stood in a queue for over an hour to go to the Hard Rock Café for a burger.
I don’t know whether London has become more like New York or just learned how to make a decent burger but these days it has become as much a staple of the British diet as fish and chips and chicken vindaloo. You can’t turn a corner in this town without bumping into a Gourmet Burger Kitchen/Hamburger Heaven/Union/etc. Go figure.
The Hoxton Grill is situated within the ever-so-cool and oh-so-reasonable Hoxton Hotel. Not so long ago, I used to share an office nearby and when I wanted to get away from my colleagues and go to a place with free wi-fi, I would decamp to the hotel lobby for the day. I could nurse a coffee there for six or more hours and nobody seemed to mind. That’s my kind of hotel. Then the Soho House Group took over the restaurant and brought in a lunchtime two-course for under £20 and I practically moved in for a while.
‘Where is this place, again?’ said Mr. Smith, calling from the back of a taxi on his way from Mayfair.
‘Old Street and keep going,’ I said. ‘Maybe you should try public transport, you might like it.’
‘I know, I know,’ he said. ‘Don’t rub it in. Do you have knickers on today?’
‘Just for you, honey,’ I said. ‘Now get your ass down here. This girl is hungry and horny. I’m in a mood for a big, fat, juicy burger.’
Being more of a W1 native than an East London kind of guy, it took Mr. Smith a bit longer than anticipated to find the Hoxton. He arrived just in time for us to catch the tail end of the lunchtime shift.
Mr. Smith: Hamburgers and hot sex. The sort of invitation that Ms. Smith does love to offer on a slow Thursday afternoon. A guarantee that the anticipation will put me off my game for the next 24 hours.
Hmm. East London. How does one get efficiently from deepest darkest Mayfair to Great Eastern Street. Taxi? No way. Stick to the efficient means, the Tube.
Even my driver told me that he could not get me there in less than 30 minutes. One learns from experience Ms. Smith should not be left waiting.
Numerous planes, trains and automobiles later, I arrived to the welcoming Hoxton Hotel, home of the Soho House operated Hoxton Grill, for a spot of NYC Deli and some ‘sky rockets in-flight afternoon delight’ with Ms. Smith.
My mishandling of the cross-town logistics meant that we had our choice of seating. Of course Ms. Smith chose a very cosy banquette for two so that we could hold hands and play footsie under the table. We quickly were greeted by our efficient Eastern European waitress who provided us with a quick rundown of what was not on the menu. We did not need much time given our interest in a NYC deli experience. One Chicken Club and One Hamburger (rare). Chips, coleslaw on the side and a couple of big fat dill pickles. Mr. and Ms. Smith needed to attend to the business of each other that afternoon so the efficiency of service was paramount.
The service was prompt but a request for vinegar prompted a very puzzled look from our waitress. Much toing and froing before she returned with a small bowl of the Hoxton Grill’s finest balsamic vinegar. Now we are partial to the odd bit of Italy’s finest aged balsamic but just not on our chips. Portions were correct for the type of food and location but the Burger and the Club were both a bit limp and soggy. We do not do limp and soggy – just not part of our lexicon. Mr. and Ms. Smith are hot, flavourful and robust food lovers. Unfortunately the Hoxton Grill just did not meet the test.
Good news it did not distract us from the real business at hand – giving Ms. Smith a good seeing to.