When I think of southern soul food, I imagine a greased-up, smoky shack serving huge sloppy portions. Something like Freddy’s from House of Cards. A guilty pleasure sort of place where you get your fingers dirty. The Lockhart couldn’t have been further away from this. Set just off Edgware Road on a trendy little side-street it is clean white walls and chic vintage furniture. It all verges on being a bit cold and boring. What doesn’t help its cause is that the whiskey bar is downstairs and the open kitchen is hidden in the back corner.
Once seated I couldn’t resist a bottle of Lone Star (£5) after being hooked on True Detective. It’s the type of beer that deserves to wash down spicy finger food. The food here is too refined for that. To kick things off we were given a slice of decent bread and butter made from rendered pork fat or something like that (although it just tasted like normal unsalted butter to me) was good brioche-like stuff. Then came the starters. Literally within 30 seconds of ordering them they came. This really pisses me off, and is the third restaurant in London in the last few weeks that have fired out the food. The Wedge Salad (£8) was a big old thing with plenty of boiled eggs. It only got interesting when I got to the bottom though and got all the creamy dill sauce. The rest of it was basically just iceberg, eggs and crispy bacon bits.
The catfish gumbo (£9) had plenty of going on with a good hit of heat. This was more like the food I’d been expecting. Just a shame it came so quickly.
For main the pork belly was hardly the biggest cut and I would have preferred a bit of crispness on the skin. The sauce was too sweet for my liking, making the whole dish a bit maple-syrupy and just a bit sickly.
The fried chicken was 2 legs that had a great crispy coating and were succulent. But really only 2 legs? This was part of a set 3 course deal, but it was still around £17 for the main course. A side of coleslaw was decent and the collard greens were tasty but it didn’t blow me away.
The cornbread (£6) is probably the most fattening and indulgent side order in London. It’s basically a Medeira cake with extra butter melted all over it. For a few bites this is a great thing, but it’s a bit too close to cardiac arrest territory for me. Still wolfed the lot though.
I wasn’t given a dessert menu, instead my partner’s dessert (from the set menu) came straight away. It was a ‘deconstructed’ (how very modern of them) lemon merignue pie, and was top notch. The meringue was like the best marshmallows cooked over a fire and then that sharp tang of the lemon sitting beneath it.
So the meal came to an end within an hour. This absoloutley ruined the meal. I’ll begrudgingly accept this whole 2 hours turnover time, but for £50 a head I want to be in there for longer than an hour. It was also overpriced. Some bottles of beer were around the £7 mark and wine soon shot above £40 a bottle. Even the food, which wasn’t exactly Southern sized portions, didn’t merit the price tag. I wanted to love this restaurant, but sadly it was all a bit forgettable.