This was my third attempt to get to the Lockhart. I’d heard about it through the Twittersphere and it sounded right up my street; a southern US restaurant full of all things comfort and fried. And to top it all, it’s a very convenient five minutes from my office. *Happy face*.
It has the added attraction of being very near the wonderful Les Senteurs, a perfume shop of pure joy and one which I have never actually been able to walk past. Except when it is closed.
You could go tomorrow for lunch and afterwards, when you are feeling happy and fat, you could go and get that Valentine’s Day present or if you’re reading this after the 14th, the one you had obviously been intending to buy. Never say I’m not practical.
Given that this place has been causing great excitement amongst food people, I thought I wouldn’t be able to get a table at short notice for lunch, but it was fairly empty. Partly the weather and partly the location, I suspect. I very much hope that it does not stay empty and I encourage you to use it, or I might lose it. *Unhappy face*.
The chef is the Mississippi–born Brad McDonald and I am afraid that as I plonked myself right next to the open kitchen, we had quite a bit of a conversation and I discovered that he does a sideline in serious doughnuts – you can choose your filling – and I rapidly came to the view that they might form a significant part of my life in future. I am already plotting a client event based around them.
Something in my face clearly made the excellent maitre d’ realise that I wanted the cornbread and honey butter, before really even opening my mouth and mentioning it. He got it started straight away, before I had even settled into my seat. Good man.
The cornbread and honey butter has been making waves. There is a reason for this. I cannot remember the list of ingredients mentioned and I suspect that is my brain editing out the unbelievable amount of calories consumed, but I do remember a lot of melted butter and honey. It was fabulous. It was also enough for four.
The lunchtime menu is short and sweet. We picked the catfish goujons with creole remoulade. A bargain at £3. Delicious. We then both had the fried chicken (£12) because, let’s face it, we were always going to, and it came with two sides, grits and stir-fried broccoli with chilli.
You may have had grits before. You may like me, have had some vile version of them in a nasty diner in Disneyland and thought you would never order them again in your life.
I am glad that I am capable of changing my mind, because these tasted like the richest, creamiest most delicious mashed potatoes I have ever eaten. But there are no potatoes. Only fine and coarse-ground grits. Grits of gorgeousness, grits of joy. I scraped the plate clean. I believe the words butter and cream were used, as well as cheese. Light, this isn’t. Unbelievably delicious, this is. Perfect with the delicious crisp on the outside yet moist on the inside chicken
In for a penny, in for half a stone, we decided to have both desserts; it would have been rude not to. Freshly made mini-doughnuts, sprinkled with fennel pollen and with a rich, hot, dark chocolate sauce hidden underneath, to dip the doughnuts into. Because one needs.
And then we had what the maitre d’ tried not to describe as a deconstructed Lemon Meringue pie, because he hates that word, although we failed to find another. Suggestions on a postcard please.
Crunchy cake crumbs, atop which sat a lemony custardy ice-cream and warm baked meringue. The bastard child of baked Alaska and lemon tart, it was beautiful. We couldn’t finish it.
Mention must be made of the wines. A short list but with sensible mark-ups, this is not greedy, even if its customers may be. I was recommended the Kung Fu Girl Riesling, from Washington, which is not a wine region that immediately springs to mind and very floral and fruity it was too.
I’m extremely pleased that we have a little bit of the southern US in the West End. I can see that this is going to become a regular haunt. I’ve already booked my next visit and I know where I’m going to sit. My arteries won’t thank me but my clients will.
Scores on the doors: 9/10
Best for: Carbicide
Worst for: dieters