Updated 20/9/18 with soft launch info
What: Blacklock Shoreditch
In a nutshell: Chops and cocktails for Rivington Street
Summing it all up: Expect chops,steaks and that amazing cheesecake at Blacklock's new Shoreditch opening, but the big news here is that there'll be a dedicated bar area that they're teaming up with top NYC bar owners on.
With their Soho and City restaurants always packed to the rafters, it made sense for everyone's favourite chop house Blacklock to get working on a third place. And their plans for the place they've found in Shoreditch sound excellent. They'll be taking over the old Rivington Grill space, just off Old Street roundabout, for their biggest restaurant yet. And this one has room enough for a dedicated bar area.
We caught up with owner Gordon Ker for a little chat about exactly what they have planned.
Hot Dinners: With the restaurant scene being described as 'challenging' at the moment, how is it you're still opening new places?
Gordon: It is challenging for people but we're still really busy.
We heard there's a two-month waiting list in Soho just for Sunday lunch?
It's been like that for eighteen months now - it's ridiculous, yeah. We do 300 plus [Sunday lunches] a week without fail. I was listening to the reservations team today saying, 'I'm really sorry but the next free table is at the end of October.' And you know, I don't want to book months ahead for Sunday lunch, I want to decide the day before, so the Shoreditch opening's going to help with that.
So why do you think that is? <prepares to take copious notes> What's the secret of your success?
We are quality, cheap and fun. We buy the very best quality meat in the country (from Philip Warren in Cornwall), we try and cook it as simply as possible and not mess it up, and serve it at really good value for money. But the biggest focus really is on service - it's all about hospitality and how we treat people. The team genuinely care that people leave happy and if something ever goes slightly amiss they take it really personally.
So you get a lot of customers coming back again and again?
Every restaurateur in London seems to find getting the right staff an issue - how do you do it?
We're all about building a really great place to work for - we want to see people grow and with the new restaurant opening we're able to move lots of people into new positions. We have a really good pipeline of talent in the company...We trust them to give really good service, look after the guest and then people will leave happy.
What's the actual space you're moving into in Shoreditch like?
The Rivington as it was, was all white walls, ceilings and white tablecloths - quite stark. But the building is an old warehouse - a furniture makers factory - so we've gone in and revealed all the old history and character of the building. There's a big raftered ceiling - so nice. And it's the first time we've ever been on the ground floor. We have windows which we've never had before, so we're going to have to work out what to do with those!
And you have space for a late night bar area too, we hear?
Each time we do a new restaurant it should have its own unique feel. We've wanted to do something with more of a focus on the bar for a while now. We've got zero space in Soho and very little in the City. Shoreditch is our biggest site and with the heritage of its bar scene it felt like the right place to do it.
We understand you're working with NYC bar folk Jon Neidich and Jim Kearns?
Yes, we know the guys behind [Greenwich Village speakeasy] Slowly Shirly and The Happiest Hour in New York and they're going to collaborate with us on the bar. It'll be a Blacklock vibe with a Slowly Shirley-curated cocktail list.
More importantly, your bar snacks are getting a proper look in this time, yes?
We're going to do bar food or drinking food for the first time - an entirely separate food menu to go in the bar. Typical Blacklock, get your hands dirty stuff. There'll be smaller versions of our Sunday Yorkshire puddings filled with melted black pudding and our gravy on top - which is pretty good. And Welsh Rarebit nuggets.
Blacklock Shoreditch opens in September and the menu will be like the one in the City, with a few starters and all the old favourites - chops, steaks, the 10-hour ash-roasted sweet potato and barbecued baby gems with anchovy dripping. We're also told they'll have the odd new dish on in Shoreditch, but that's still in development. And yes, they'll be doing their epic Sunday lunches.
More about Blacklock Shoreditch
Where is it? 28-30 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3DZ
When does it open? 2 October. Officially opening 8 October 2018 - walk-ins and reservations available
Soft launch info: Between Tuesday 2nd and Saturday 6th, Blacklock will be offering 50% off all food. There will be space for walk-ins but you can also book on firstname.lastname@example.org
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