My London restaurant ‘to try’ list is worryingly long, and it is ever growing. I have struggled to find the time, money or dining partner willing to pander to my hunger, and as more places are added to the list and none are being ticked off, it’s all beginning to get overwhelming!
But things might be about to change. My fella has, by his own admission, begun to broaden his gastronomic appreciation thanks to my obsession with eating out and trying new places, and he’s kind enough to let me choose where we go for dinner on date nights, which means the list is starting to get the attention it deserves.
Temper Soho is my favourite restaurant in London. I’ve been three times and each time has been as excellent as the last. While I’d go again in a heartbeat, for our most recent date night I wanted to try something new. So instead, we went to Temper City… you know, to really mix things up.
Temper City is the second of Neil Rankin’s Temper restaurants. While the first was about meat and tacos, this one is all about curries cooked on open flames using creative ingredients. It’s also very big on gin, with 20 different types of gin to be sampled.
The curries, cooked on the open flames in the middle of the restaurant, draw on influences from all over the world, but with several big nods to Scotland (where ironically my fella was relocated to just a few days after our visit) thanks to Neil’s roots.
Our reservation was for just before 7, which meant we were able to take advantage of the very generous happy-hour which runs until 7.30pm. I had the house G&T made with Beefeater gin garnished with blood orange, which was a delightful £4.50, while he had a beer (from a bottle with a very artistic french bulldog on it), served in a cute half pint tankard which made him feel like a giant, for the same price.
The menu is interesting, and like Temper Soho, has been designed to let you order multiple delights so you can sample as much as you want. The starters sounded intriguing, and there was no chance we were going to pass up the opportunity to try the Korean Haggis (£6.50). It arrived in a bowl, made with finely diced duck, with a subtle sweetness spiced up with a Korean curry paste and topped with cooling radishes and spring onion. Obviously, this isn’t haggis in the traditional sense, but the appearance isn’t too far off and it tasted fantastic. On the side, two cooling lettuce leaves that I used to spoon the “haggis” into my mouth. It was glorious.
We asked our waitress to help us when it came to what we should order for the mains. I had read in a review that the Dry Goat (£12) was a must-try, and she concurred, and then pointed us in the direction of the Pork Rib with XO Glaze (£12) which we duly ordered and then we chose a few of our own – Dashi Chip Shop Chicken (£7) and some chips and curry sauce (because the Scottish influences are real!).
All of these delicious meaty dishes came served alongside a Thali Plate which came with paratha, temper mix, spiced fried potatoes, turmeric pickles, yoghurt & tamarind sauce, peshwari dust, fresh herbs and two grilled chillis… more on those later.
The best thing to do was create a mouthful with a little bit of each element to get an explosion of flavour. The peshwari dust was my favourite on the plate, sweet and light, like crushed watsits, and the fried potatoes which looked like shoestring fries were crispy and fun. The Pork Rib (void of bone and packed with succulent juices) was generously large and easy to share between the two of us. The Chip Shop Chicken was probably the most tender chicken either of us have ever tried, and the silky, creamy sauce it arrived swimming in was a delicious dip for the paratha (which is a flatbread cooked upon the bbq; floury, puffy and delicious.)
The Dry Goat was, as expected, the hero of our order. ‘Dry’ is an extremely unfair description as it was anything but! Rather it is juicy, sweet and aromatic. It arrived almost shredded, making it easy to sandwich into the paratha, along with a scoop of yoghurt, chutney and a pickle or two.
We devoured every last bit of food on our plates. About halfway through I was about to take a bite of the charred green chilli when the waitress stopped me and advised it was better to eat that one at the end of the meal because it was “quite spicy”. I ate the red chilli and enjoyed the sweetness and warmth of the spice so didn’t think much of taking a big bite of the green one at the end, as recommended, expecting more of the same. This is the first and only time thus far in our relationship that my fella has seen me cry. The spice was so intense I could feel my pulse in my ears. I suddenly felt hot, as though I had plonked my face onto one of the flame grills in front of us, and no amount of over-dramatic fanning was cooling. My taste buds were screaming and his laughter also didn’t help.
We didn’t get a chance to sample the desserts but as Temper Soho serves one of the best puds I’ve ever tried, I have high hopes for what this place can create.
Just a few weeks ago it was announced that a third Temper will be opening in Covent Garden, with fire once again at the centre of the kitchen but this time a focus on pizzas. Of course, that will be another restaurant added to the never-ending list, but the chances are we’ll be back here again before then because my chap is desperate to try their steaks (sitting at the bar means you have constant food envy as you can see every dish going out!) and I’m also super keen to take advantage of their Saturday lunch deal (one the first Saturday or every month) which includes bottomless bloody mary’s prosecco and mimosas as well as a quiz. That right there is the dream!