A friday off work and a much anticipated viewing of Les Miserables at the theatre was just begging for a spot of tasty lunch to get us in the mood for the most hyped theatrical production of these times. After deciding on an early afternoon walk from Little Venice to Camden, we decided to seek a watering hole for some warming booze and a spot of luncheon in Camden. We wanted a place ideally with reasonable reviews and whilst the call of Camden's reputable market food was of obvious interest, we preferred the idea of a waitress and table for this occasion. No need to get up, lazy bastards.
So... Made in Camden it was. Michelin rated bib gourmand, good cuisine at a reasonable price - that would be good enough for us.
First impressions, after googling the menu we could only locate both Brunch and Valentines lists. Where's lunch? Oh well, it can be a surprise, if the reviews are anything to live up to. So upon arrival we were presented with the strangely elusive lunch menu - a modest selection, and if a limited array of lunch choices is anything to go by, we all know the rules dictate it ought to represent a well executed and seasonal selection. (Service was prompt, but the restaurant was quiet - three other groups of people - but it's Friday afternoon so what might you realistically expect in a music venue?)
We opted for a meze board to share at £7 and a venison burger at £8 including a half pint as part of the lunch deal. Not quite what we expected, having read of the myriad of small, interesting and quirky style tapas dishes, but we were pleased to be sat down, out of the cold and to have a drink in hand.
Service was prompt - well, there really were few other customers - but for the food to come in under 5 minutes was a slight surprise. We requested salt and pepper, the presumption that the food is seasoned to perfection is a promising and optimistic idea but you really do have to guarantee bang on seasoning, and really, if you're going to serve chips....
The pattie was dry and grisly and the cheese was lacking. It was also very small. Small is fine if you are the likes of an 'Honest Burger' made from 35 day aged Ginger Pig rare breed and you are delicious and trustworthy, leaving no-one unhappy. You also have a side of rosemary fries which really aren't worth comparing. The problem is, thanks to the Michelin inspectors, when bib gourmand is issued, you expect a good burger. Or even a menu.
The meze comprised 4 dips - smoked tomato, baba ghanoush, lemon chickpea stew and green tahini accompanied by 4 paltry slices of toasted ciabatta. The baba ghanoush was delicious and therefore insufficient in quantity. I could have inhaled an entire bowl. The other 3 were pleasant(ish) but nothing to write home about.
Overall - our bill came to £24.00 for the burger, meze plus a pint and a half, which really is rather reasonable value for money in London. However, would I go back? Probs not. I'd probably prefer a 99p burger courtesy of the golden arches. And whilst this may not come with a free beer, you could pick up a can from the nearest corner shop, probably opposite McD's, and wash it down with that. Your total bill at £1.98, if not less.
This is one of those annoying picky reviews I know. We didn't have a bad time, it just wasn't great. Still intrigued by all that British tapas we heard about...