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January 11, 2013

Review: Electric Diner

By Spear's

If you like your food super-sized, sweet and generously salted, Electric Diner is a dream. Emily Rookwood and her flatmate were less impressed, however

A few days ago, I took the flatmate to the recently re-opened Electric Diner (née Brasserie). The Electric burnt down last year and as we perched at the bar opposite the raging open grill, the flatmate commented that she was hardly surprised. It was, at least, nice and cosy.

I was warned in advance that the portions here were large. Now, I like food and I also like a challenge, so wasn’t too worried. On arrival, however, it became clear that the portions were not just big, but almost gratuitously so – sparrows need not venture in.

We ordered, then on the advice of our waiter, slimmed down our order and waited. In front of us were trays and trays of seasonings, boiled eggs, herbs and toasted almonds, all at hand for the chefs to (not us!) to grab. I resisted tucking in and we instead discussed how many eggs we could eat in one sitting (hard boiled: not so many; poached: come on down).
AFTER SOME DEBATE and huge excitement, having remembered that Film4 were having a Ryan Gosling night, our ‘starter’ arrived. We went for the bone marrow with ox cheek marmalade. Three hefty bones appeared piled high with soft, deep brown ox cheek strands, held together by a glossy, sticky cooking sauce.

The marrow was wobbly in all the right ways and was beautiful with the rich meaty jam. My slight issue was the bread that it came with — this already being a sweet and rich dish, the brioche-like toast seemed a step too far. A more savoury and fresh rather than toasted or fried loaf would have pleased me a lot more and would have brought the balance of the dish back in kilter. It was very tasty though, and more than big enough for two.

Continuing the meaty theme, we both opted for the burger. The Electric Diner is the first overseas outpost for Brendan Sodikoff, the chef behind Chicago’s highly praised Au Cheval, which is famed for its burgers, so I was hoping for something mind-bogglingly good.

As much as it pains me to say it, and perhaps it stems from having had just so very many burgers of late, it wasn’t really what I’d been hoping for. The bun was brioche, beautifully glazed and golden, however with a slightly damp bottom. It may well just be my palate, but again it just made everything just that bit too sweet.

Combined with the thick bacon, which is sweet-cured – I presume in something maple-based – rather than just straight up smokey, it somewhat defeated us.

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The patties are also thin so you don’t have the opportunity to have your burger medium and juicy, which is a great shame. The meat wasn’t dry, but compared to other burger joints, the grey hue does not stand up to a rose-red, flame-licked patty.
SIDES WERE GENEROUS, the chips filled up a big silver pot as is now customary — but as with lots of the dishes, they were too salty (the flatmate loves salt and even she commented). Also, the avocado salad has tarragon hiding in it, by way of a warning — not to everyone’s taste and for me, it was a herb too far.

I realise I sound negative, but I should point out that the food certainly wasn’t bad and portions are very generous. If you like your food super-sized, sweet and generously salted, it is a dream. However, for my palate and stomach it was all just a bit too much.

It’s a fun spot to sit, though – busy, with a good atmosphere and red leather banquettes squishier than Eric Pickles.
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