I am *so* excited to tell you about this next place. Apologies in advance for a rather gushy blog post, but I hope after reading you will understand why The Lockhart in London is the latest place to win my tastebuds over!
The Lockhart is tucked away behind the hustle and bustle of London’s Oxford Street, and can be found precisely on Seymour Place, Marylebone. The Head Chef, Brad McDonald, was born in Mississippi so The Lockhart rightfully describes itself as a “Southern US restaurant” – I was expecting plenty of comfort food. From the outside, on a dark and windy night, the pale green and white exterior with simplistic lettering looks cool yet inviting. Myself and four friends bundled in, and at 7.30pm on a Saturday evening we were some of the first diners to take up residence for the night. We were greeted with the warm Scottish welcome we are accustomed to, and also one that we have missed a lot, since our friend Charlie, now helping to run a tight ship at The Lockhart, used to belong to our city, Edinburgh!
Coats off and we were led downstairs to the bar area where Charlie mixes us up our cocktails of choice. The boys tucked into an Old Fashioned and one of our party enjoyed her first authentic mocktail. Having persevered with overly sweet and sub-standard mocktails throughout her pregnancy, my friend was relieved to be drinking a virgin Cosmo that really tasted like one. I stuck to prosecco and enjoyed a crisp and bubbly glass from the state of New York.
Back upstairs, the restaurant floor was filling up so we took our seats. As there were five of us it was recommended that we try a little bit of everything. The first pleasant surprise was the tapas style menu – not what sprung to mind when thinking about Southern American cooking. It worked perfectly and I really recommend going with a crowd to make the most of this style of eating.
I won’t talk you through every item on the menu (you can just look at my pics for that!) but I will tell you a little more about some of my
favourite dishes. A must have is the cornbread – it was my first time eating it and hopefully not my last. The loaf is baked in a cast iron tray and coated in some sort of buttery, honey glaze. For me, it’s the stuff dreams are made of, and hits the nail on the head for typical southern american comfort food. You just need one bite to know it’s not going to be good for you, but it would be the worst thing you could do that day not to finish it.
The simplicity of this next dish won me over – a big wedge of iceberg lettuce, some chopped bacon and boiled egg. Doesn’t sound very interesting but the chefs home-made buttermilk ranch style dressing truly made this dish. Creamy, sharp and silky. Next up, we sampled some of the fried chicken – another dish The Lockhart nails. The batter is light and crispy and a fantastic golden colour. The word is this dish flies off the menu so I’d advise, if you’re not too late a diner, getting your order in sharpish!
Believe it or not these dishes are only the beginning. The mains, or entrees as they are called on the menu are, again, outstanding. I didn’t think I would enjoy the shirmp and grits, however not only was it fun to try but the grits were lovely and creamy and made for a gorgeous base to the prawns surrounded by wild mushrooms and, of course, bacon.
The ribs, Charlie tells us, are smoked each day at 5pm, to the extent that the whole place is enveloped by smoke and all the windows and doors need opened – now that’s exactly how I imagine a real southern american smoked rack of ribs to be cooked. The boys at our table were not disappointed, pink and cooked to perfect the meat fell off the bone.
From an aesthetic point of view, the stuffed quail takes the biscuit.We are presented with a whole, roasted quail, on a bed of iceberg lettuce. Cutting into the quail and allowing the under layer of “dirty” rice (cooked in chicken liver for colour) to explode onto the plate was quite amazing.
For dessert I delved into hot sugar doughnuts with a delicious dark chocolate sauce, perhaps with brandy, or something similar to give it a kick. Light, fluffy, dreamy! My photos do not do this dish justice. My friends tried the de-constructed lemon meringue pie and I gathered from the “mmm”s going around the table it was also a hit. Coffees and after dinner drinks followed, during which we continued to dissect each dish and rave about our favourite plates. At closing time we tumbled home in a cosy food coma.
There is no faffing around at The Lockhart. For many dishes, like the fried chicken and the ribs, there is nothing to hide behind. No fancy salads, foaming sauces or distracting sides, just bloody good food. Plus, I’m not the only one who raves about this gem of a restaurant. During the past two weeks food reviews have been flooding in from The Independent and The Gaurdian to name but a few, so if you don’t take my word for it, take theirs.