Drunch – St John’s Wood, London
Drunch’s second branch in London, which opened only three months ago in July, is uniquely peculiar in that while it offers a fully Halal food menu, it’s also part gastro-pub and part shisha-lounge.
While there’s 40 seats outdoors for those seeking after an alfresco dining experience along with a shisha (available on the terrace from 4pm daily), the remaining 60 seats indoors are divided into two rooms, with one at the back that’s entirely separate from the front room that houses the restaurant’s alcohol bar, and thus perfect for the two aforementioned groups.
When Drunch says that its stylish modern venue offers “an almost living room like warm, cosy interior”, you better believe it.
Red and dark green upholstery that matches seamlessly with the combination of black and muddy sea green walls, black tables, polished brass ornaments, and warm lighting, all succeed in creating a moody, relaxed atmosphere.
Although Drunch didn’t have a defined non-alcoholic drinks menu at the time of our visit, they were readily able to adapt their cocktails into mocktails while offering a selection of mojitos.
Having said that though, the excitingly named SELFie Lisa, garnished with, as one would expect, an edible image of Da Vinci’s great woman herself, was indeed spectacular in both looks and taste. What gave this such a unique flavour was the orgeat – a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water – which, when combined with the sharp freshness of the lime, really made for an extremely addictive drink. And though the passionfruit was just about discernible, in all, it really was superb, and one that certainly needs to be had without question.
We’ve never had candyfloss atop a mocktail before; so whether by choice or by design, its sugary sweetness was actually required in countering the slight sourness of the berry concoction in this Super Fly Sky High. Certainly different!
It should be noted that the above trio of beverages were presented as their cocktail counterparts normally would be. Otherwise, as mocktails, these will be served in larger quantities similar to the mojitos below.
These mojitos are the default way in which all non-alcoholic drinks are presented at Drunch, i.e. in far larger quantities than their alcoholic counterparts.
The Classic was certainly that – a pretty well balanced mixture of the two typical ingredients that comprise a mojito, with the sharp, tangy sensation of the lemonade kicking in before being lifted all at once by the freshness of the mint. Pretty good!
The Strawberry version was the most intense, but only if you can get to the fresh fruit resting at the bottom. While it might be difficult to give this a stir, given the quantity of ice, keep at it and you’ll be rewarded with a mouthful of intensely fresh strawberry goodness.
As for the Passionfruit, then this wasn’t disparate in nature like the above. As such, the sweet passionfruit was swiftly mellowed by the mint that lingered gracefully as an aftertaste.
This beautifully presented and vibrant looking summer dish’s catalyst was the diced apple, which succeeded in bringing this otherwise subtly tasting plate of mainly Avocado and Handpicked Cornish Crab alive and snapping.
The apple’s sharp, sour edge coupled with the gentle heat generated by the chilli worked well against both the natural sweetness of the crab flesh and the pulpy avocado.
A generous bite of the avocado along with a creamy prawn or two, followed by a nibble of the melba toast topped with a tad of the tomato salsa, is the way to approach this attractive Prawn Cocktail.
What you predominantly get is the smooth texture of the avocado juxtaposed with the soft, tender prawns covered in a light, lemony sauce. The tanginess is delivered by the tomato salso, while the the crispy toast ensures textural contrast. A good little dish!
Contrary to this seemingly disparate-looking menagerie of ingredients, this turned out to be, surprisingly for us anyway, one of the stars of the evening.
Practically everything on the plate had its clever part to play in creating a harmonious and balanced dish, helped, of course, by a perfectly cooked, soft and succulent, sweet salmon with, quite literally, crunchy skin.
But, when had with sharp, tangy cherry tomatoes, red chicory with its mild bitterness, the familiar taste of a semi-boiled egg, and a dressing that lent a level of sournesss, you’ll be left thoroughly impressed. RECOMMENDED ALL THE WAY!
With a thick, chewy and loose-textured patty, which tasted meaty and good without being outstanding, sandwiched between a large toasted brioche bun, Drunch’s signature burger, despite being cooked bang on medium as requested, didn’t quite send us soaring yonder.
For one, the smooth aioli sauce wasn’t quite tempered by the sweetness of the tomato and the sharpness of the gherkins, and thus dominated proceedings.
As to whether this is worth the £14.95 price tag, then in light of the dishes to follow, we’d say no.
What’s more, some of the chips were undercooked!
A tremendous, absolutely tremendous bird this!
Firstly, the tenderest, most succulent chicken breast imaginable with a crispy skin rested atop a bed of kale and a silky smooth sweet potato puree base, all surrounded by a Girolles Mushroom sauce.
So believe us when we say that the intense sweetness of said puree perfectly married with the meaty-cum-earthy mushroom sauce.
And despite a crispy, well made Croquette raising questions over its extraneity, this was still our dish of the review.
Don’t think; order!
Yes, yes, yes… yes, and yes some more!
Given the cut, a superbly chewy-soft and juicy slab o’meat, with a well charred exterior, that was soundly seasoned with pepper, medium as ordered, and had us chewing and purring towards a food orgasm.
Add to that the tangy, sweet Bernaise sauce, rocket leaves, a few other bits and pieces that were practically forgotten in our admiration of the sexy sirloin, and what you have here is a worthy contender for best Halal sirloin steak had by FtL this year.
More importantly, and a rectification to what came before, not only were the amazing chips far better cooked, but also lightly vinegared to give it a tangy sour aftertaste.
Had we known of this before posting Our Favourite Lamb Dishes for #LoveLambWeek 2017, this would have certainly been featured!
This entire dish revolved around the chef’s skills of balance and refinement, for although the braised lamb shank wasn’t as intensely flavoured via its marination as some others we’ve had, the sheer quality of the meat was compensation enough and, thus, able to shine through in all its glory.
Not only was it amazingy soft and practically falling off the bone, but went beautifully with the well seasoned, creamy mash, the meaty jus, and the sour edge delivered by the roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine. Yummy!
An underwhelming sticky pudding that had a delicately crispy exterior, a slightly stodgy and dense interior, and was covered in a toffee sauce that was, without being overly sweet, more liquidy in composition than sticky.
Similarly, the vanilla ice cream was equally disappointing – extremely cold, with ice crystals dominating its texture.
Interesting dessert this. The doughnut balls were peculiarly spongy in texture; and though decent enough, filled as they were in a thick, gloopy chocolately sauce, it would have been far better had it been the more traditional lighter sort. Unsurprisingly, therefore, it turned out on the chewy side.
Nevertheless, the creamy caramel sauce was superb and worked well against the sugary richness of the balls.
This well balanced cheesecake’s most intriguing feature was, of course, its crunchy toffee popcorn, which, more than anything else, worked as a good foil against the ultra-creamy and fluffy-like texture of the no-baked cheese topping.
The base, however, was texturally disappointing given how grainy it was, as opposed to biscuity.
While the other two were your normal standard type, the one that deserves a few words is the so-called Remedy Tea. A potent tonic whose strong lemony-cum-gingery intensity was such that, at first, only a few tentative sips were possible to avoid being hit at the back of the throat. But, once the taste buds adjusted, this turned into soothingly addictive beverage.
It may not be to everyone’s taste (certainly wasn’t for one Lion), but there’s no disputing its uniqueness. More importantly, if you’re seeking after a possible remedy for the sniffles or stepping in from a cold day, then this might be worth a try.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
Arguably the dishes of the review were the Cumbrian Chicken followed close behind by the Herb Roasted Salmon Nicoise Salad.
Nevertheless, there were a few dishes that didn't quite do it for us, resulting in Drunch scoring a rating closer to four than five. But, with a chef as friendly, welcoming and as evidently talented as Noordin, it's only a matter of time, given that they've only been going for 3-months at this present location, before they do.
With efficient and extremely helpful and knowledgeable staff, Drunch is definitely worth a visit if you're in and around the iconic Regent's Park.
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