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25 April 2006

The Lock Dining Bar *****

I do not want to mess about, The Lock is a fantastic restaurant.  The food is astounding, the service brilliant, the wine advice spot-on and it's cheap.  Three courses plus a smattering of amuses bouches, bread, wine, tea and service came in just shy of £90 for two.  You have to go and try it - I gave it five stars because I'm in love with it.

Sounds too good to be true?  Well, sort of.  The facts listed above are all correct, the pay-off is that the restaurant is in Tottenham Hale, an area that is to be polite, a culinary wasteland.  Plus, if any self respecting food lover drove past the place, they'd assume from the gaudy sign and hulking building that at best the restaurant is an American diner / pub.  They'd be sorely mistaken, it is so much more than that.  The clear skill in the kitchen and deftness with service belie the strong backgrounds of partners chef Adebola 'Ade' Adeshina and Fabrizio Russo, who is front of house.  Ade's CV is littered with restaurants like Aubergine (when it was under Ramsay), Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road, The Square and Eric Chavot.


I'd heard good things about The Lock on The Square Meal and in a review by Terry Durack and was expecting a buzzy setting.  I was therefore a bit disappointed to walk into an entirely empty restaurant at 8pm on a Tuesday night.  As the night wore on and we were the only people in there, my disappointment transformed into ambivalence: it was great to get so much opportunity to speak to Fabrizio, but I felt sorry for all those people missing out on such a great opportunity.

The meal started promisingly with a demitasse of gazpacho.  Maybe it could have been slightly colder for my taste, but otherwise it stuck close to its Andalucian heritage.  The soup was the first opportunity to experience the restaurant's much lauded (on their menu anyway) sourcing.  They make a big deal that all their suppliers are local.  Fabrizio told us that the tomatoes were bought from a husband and wife team at Walthamstow Market who have been selling fruit and veg for the past forty years.  If the punchy, sweet flavour of the tomato base of the gazpacho is anything to go by, the denizens of Walthamstow Market are eating some of the best fruit and veg in London.


My starter of goats cheese risotto came served with julienned sun-dried tomatoes crisscrossing it's surface.  It was very good.  It was the right consistency, gooey but not a soup and was seasoned perfectly.  The pungency of the goats cheese was at just the right level so you knew it was there, but it didn't taste like you were eating a wheel of cheese.  Silverbrowess's salmon tartar was equally good.  It wasn't complicated but it tasted great.  It was initially served with an enormous dollop of glistening caviar, which we had to ask them to remove for religious reasons.  It was swiftly replaced with a topping of fried-to-a-crisp julienned leeks.

Main courses continued to hold the side-up.  My sea bass on a bed of pasta al forno was fantastic.  I wasn't sure that the sea bass would be able to handle the cheesy pasta, but it was a great combination that was well complimented by a tangy tomato and pesto sauce.  It was a riot of colour on the plate but was perfectly executed.  Silverbrowess's halibut with mushy peas and wilted cabbage was similarly good.  Dotting the side of the plate were three perfectly formed won-ton, stuffed with salmon mousse, that had not been on the menu.  They added to the subtlety of the dish, the smokiness going well with the sweetness of the peas and the luscious white fish.  Of the two dishes, I preferred the halibut, mainly because it was a bit more subtle.  Silverbrowess preferred the sea bass, which only goes to show it's horses for courses.  Both were exceptionally good.


A pre-dessert of tiramisu was good.  The desserts of crème brulée three ways and three different ice creams and sorbets were fantastic.  Of particular note were the passion fruit and banana ice-cream and the unannounced jam doughnuts served with the crème brulée.  I was equally tempted by the treacle sponge pudding, which I understand has become something of a signature dish, and the armagnac and prune mousse.  Fabrizio twisted my arm to try the crème brulée, and I was more than pleased.

We left the wine up to Fabrizio to choose and he recommended a great Frascati - no it wouldn't have been my choice either but it worked well with our food and tasted like a young Loire.  None of the wines on the menu are more than £30, with the exception of one bottle of champagne for £115.


This place is an astounding local.  Ade and Fabrizio are both lovely guys who have a clear passion for food and their restaurant.  They deserve all the plaudits they get.  They've taken a big risk setting up in what many would consider the middle of nowhere, but I for one really hope they succeed.  I've already booked a table for a couple of weeks time.

The Lock Dining Bar, Heron House, Hale Wharf, Ferry Lane, London, N17 9NF, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 8885 2829

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What others think

The Independent - "...it already has real food with real flavour, generosity, effort, spirit and the sort of knockout value (on both food and wine) to make it the best restaurant in many a London suburb..."
Square Meal - "The menu descriptions are simple; the dishes accomplished."


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