“American!”, ms scratchy went screechy. “You mean they do more than McDonalds?!”
Yes, it seems, they do.
It was a bit of a risk this. My palms were sweaty, I wasn’t entirely sure it would end well. She’d just got off a 24 hour long haul flight and we hadn’t seen each other in 4 weeks, so I wanted to go somewhere comfortable, local, with good food. Not too fancy, but the food needed to be good.
American, as a cuisine (is there such a thing?) didn’t immediately hit me. But The Lockhart is a short stroll away, and one can’t sneak a naughty peek at of any form of social media without its accolades being thrust boldly under ones nose, so I thought it worth a go.
And it was, it definitely was.
A quick tangential word about seating. The room is lovely and I like the way they’ve used retro and ‘found’ furniture, but there are good spots and not-so-good spots. The centre panel of tables feel a bit like the dining room on a cruise liner. Ask for a table at the back (if you’re ok with open kitchen views – I love them) or any of the ones running around the walls of the room.
Back to stars and stripes cuisine. Or more accurately, back to the cuisine of the deep south. Mississippi born Chef, Brad McDonald, took over the pretty deflated Lockhart kitchen at the end of 2013, and boy has he put her on some serious uppers. On the strength of this he’s branched further afield, recently opening Shotgun, a barbeque joint in Soho (more about this one shortly).
But we went to Lockhart. At lunchtime. On a Saturday, and the place had a lovely relaxed vibe. My sweaty palm anxiety lifted as soon as we were seated next to the lovely James and Sandia from my favorite London special occasion haunt; Bubbledogs Kitchen table. Not because I wanted to crassly drop that into this post, but because James said he’d cooked with Brad at Per Se. American food it might be, but not of the burger and buns variety.
We start with chicken oysters with mustard and catfish goujons with creole remoulade. My favorite is the catfish, which is crispy and succulent and beautifully pimped by the sharpness of the remoulade. ms scratchy loves them both, McDonalds of the golden arches variety slips from her mind. Bradford McDonald reclaims the family honour.
The deep fried chicken comes completely free of any oil (how do they do that?) and accompanied by two gorgeous sides; a light and creamy sweet potato mash, and collard greens cooked in ham stock and served with soft spongy chunks of not-too-salty ham. Delicious. Enough to make this lady want to eat her greens.
Our final shared dish is the catfish gumbo. Seriously good. Layers of flavour, great contrasting textures. It would probably work really well with the cornbread but that was just too good and has already found its way into our bellies.
This isn’t innovative or edgy food - but it’s not meant to be. It is solidly good comfort food prepared with great care and passion from produce of high quality. It tastes like the kitchen gives a damn and that’s what makes you want more of it.
We didn’t have room for dessert, but eyed off James and Sandia’s deconstructed lemon meringue and beignets. Both serious contenders for our next visit. Which will be in, oh, about a week. Sans sweaty palms.
**More foodie reviews of London eating establishments here.
The Scratch Score
££ moderately priced for brunch and lunch. More pennies needed for dinner.
Vibe is relaxed and non-fussy for Sunday lunch, slightly more formal for evenings. Not black tie or party frock.
22-24 Seymour Place,
London W1H 7NL
ph: 020 3011 5400