*Vegan spoiler alert – y’ain’t gunna like this*
Meat. Oh Meat! Oh bloody, dripping, dirty, dirty meat – she cries! Steak me up, throw me wantonly in the direction of the hog roast, slather me with bacon and sacrifice me on the alter of the Filet Mignon. Good things may come and go, but NOTHING remains as constant and perfect as wonderful, wonderful meat. Enter Temper – the latest beefy-brawny venture by the ‘Geek of Meat’ Neil Rankin, he of Pitt Cue Co and Smokehouse fame. Secreted away in an unlikely looking basement on Soho’s media agency-crammed Broadwick Street, overseen by a centrally placed, temple-sized charcoal barbecue, Temper is what the saliva in your mouth was made for drooling over.
Despite a slightly odd entrance – a tiny welcoming booth upstairs garnished with the ubiquitous accoutrements of hipsterish meat palaces – sacks of grain, display bottles, exposed ironwork etc. I am greeted with dazzling grins and hyper enthusiasm – the joint had at this point been open just 3 weeks. Ushered downstairs, the space opens into a vast, low ceilinged room, dominated by the grill on which several haunches of beef, lamb and pork are already sizzling away, embers glowing and Chefs duly sweltering. Around this focal point, bar stools and a feature counter from which to observe all the barbecuing action up close and personal – bring a deodorant and mini-fan between May – September. There are chickens hanging over flame, a crusted leg of lamb occasionally releasing spits of fat onto tasting coals below, flat breads grilling away. The smell is a butcher’s equivalent of Chanel No. 5. Bottle it for me now.
I nurse a Caperitif & Tonic as I peruse the menu- made with the delightful Kapse Dief aperitif from Swartland, South Africa – a twist on Campari and highly refreshing. I first discovered this at Unwined in Tooting and cannot recommend it enough for your drinks cabinet.
The premise at Temper is simple. Pick your meat poison of choice, your chosen method of cooking, some sides and sauce and off they go to work magic over fire and wood. All the meats are served on flatbreads, taking inspiration from Turkish street food, and can be garnished with sprinkles to enhance the umami wonderfulness of the sacrificial beasties.
I go for Elwy Valley native Welsh lamb, barely singed and sweetly fatty in all the right places. Topped with a pleasingly acidic green sauce and crispy onion sprinkles it melts like Iberico ham in my mouth. Caro has the South Devon Beef, grilled and charred and seasoned to perfection – equally buttery soft and given an added jettison of fun with a side of Smacked Cucumber – basically cored Cukes, literally bashed, rendered crunchy with rock salt, then topped with Korean chillies. My tastebuds have hit the National Lottery rollover and are about to drop a million on a souped-up Lambo.
A slow cooked Goat, shredded and oozing juice is smokey and fabulous. The only disappointment of the evening being what should – by mere definition – be a London Foodie Hit: Beef Fat Potatoes with Ogleshield cheese. Just read that again. Yep. Beef fat and cheese. Sadly, they miss the mark, the tatties a bit too crunchy and the cheese lacking punch. But I am swiftly distracted by Burnt End Thai Larb – all the naughty crispy bits scraped from the drip trays of this veritable roasting animal farm, dressed into a fresh and zingy salad.
At this point, my belly is vast approaching trucker-like status and – watered down with funky, off-beat glass of Blank Bottle Offspring – a Semillion / Chenin Blanc / Verdelho blend by rock’n’roll winemaker Pieter Walser in Stellenbosch – a big old tin of pineapple and cinnamonny goodness. I smack my lips. I smack the cucumber. I enter some kind of post-prandial beef coma of bliss.
Temper. Leave your vegan friends at home – seriously, there is nothing for them here. Then put that foot down on the peddle.