Disco Disco Disco Disco!
Type that into Google and the first thing that comes up (after the Groove State video) is Disco Bistro EC4: Carl Clarke‘s new pop up in the culinary desert that is the dead area between St Paul’s & Blackfriars. Well, this desert has now got a feeding hole, and a heck of a tasty one at that.
What I like about this place is that it’s doing things differently – there are so many ‘dirty food’ restaurants popping up all over the city these days that serving a really good, really naughty burger in a dimly lit corridor just isn’t special. There’s not enough creativity around, and that’s because Disco Bistro is hogging it all. They’ve nailed the ‘we’re trendy like a pop up, cosy like a pub & confident like an established restaurant’ thing – which is no mean feat. It’s a cool place – you go up the back stairs of a pretty dingy pub and enter a very quirky, sparsely lit dining room – complete with ‘Launderette’ sign hanging from the wall – obviously. It was a grim evening outside but when we walked in we felt instantly calmer, warmer & hungrier – it’s one of those places that fills you with a great sense of anticipation, and with good cause.
Let’s start with the soda bread. When booking we had (very sensibly judging by the sticky beer mats) opted to eat upstairs in the restaurant rather than down in the bar – the Rising Sun pub – where only burgers were available. Thank god we did as had we not then the little balls of soda bun delight would never have made they’re way into our lives. They arrived before we’d even ordered with a creamy pot of homemade butter and were somewhere between bread and cake – malty, sweet & moist. Heaven. You wouldn’t get that at Meat Liquor now would you?!
The menu was more extensive than I’d anticipated which was nice, with a delicious array of interesting, seasonal dishes like Grilled Cornish Squid with Black Pak Choi or Parsnip & Potato Pudding. Yum. It changes daily and Carl Clarke’s always talking about the next exciting thing to come into his kitchen on Twitter so there’s plenty to get excited about and lots of reason to keep you coming back for more!
There was only one choice for me though. I’d heard exceptional things about the Buttermilk-fried Chicken Roll so my eyes went straight to that & locked on. No deviation. I wasn’t the only one – D also waived the ‘proper’ menu and went straight for the Disco Burger – pure Devon Ruby patty, bacon, cheese & bbq short rib – an excellent choice. If we’re going to forget our waistlines & order burgers then they had better be good & we were both giddy with excitement for the main event – a giddiness helped nicely along by the divine House GnTs made with my all-time favourite Fever Tree Tonic. Tick tick tick.
One drink later and red plastic burger baskets were delivered to us by the chef himself. Service! They were HUGE. We didn’t know where to start. Steak knives had to be fetched to allow us to break down our approach and attack in two halves. The race was on. My chicken was delicious. Skin-on (not something I normally like but I barely even noticed it here), crispy and oozingly juicy, it worked a treat with the sweet brioche bun & spicy guac and I didn’t waste any time smothering it in ketchup (a serious weakness of mine which I really need to address) and devouring. There were chips too which I happily polished off, but they were a side-show, not to be billed in their own right.
D’s Disco Burger did the trick too – hers was even harder to manoeuvre than mine but she wasn’t going to let a silly thing like size stop her (that’s my kinda girl). Apparently the bbq short rib was a sensational addition – that’s the kind of innovation I like. I think it’s so much more important for restaurants to focus on doing things differently, and deliciously, in their actual food – not just swanky (or shabby) presentation. An average burger on an awesome tray is still just an average burger. It’s all about the food folks.
Sadly we’d inhaled our burgers with such dedication that there was absolutely no room for the wonderful sounding puddings (Hot Gingerbread Doughnuts with Lemon Curd being particularly hard to resist) but that’s fine – that’s just another reason to go back.
After originally planning to only be around for a few months they are now planning on staying a little longer which is wonderful news if you’re a person who eats food. Let your next stop be here. Stay long enough & they might even buy a disco ball. Groovy.