Red Hook

89 Turnmill Street, Farringdon EC1M 5QU
020 7065 6800 

 Red hook conjures up fond memories of the raw red brick neighbourhood in Brooklyn, famed for exquisite lobster rolls, such a connotation easily leaves me smiling. With this in mind I skipped merrily down Clerkenwell Road to see what over the pond offerings we have managed to muster.
Upon arrival the appearance instantly transported me back to the quintessential New York loft apartment, cue bare brickwork, untarnished art noveau steel ceiling tiles and plump upholstered booths. The complimentary offering of the on trend iced tap water masked with lemon and cucumber slithers went down a treat as we gazed at the passing plates piled with juicy crustacean claws and smoky hunks of meat, then to the menu.
I was dining with my four girlfriends who are all notorious meat eaters, or more aptly put just notorious eaters. With a menu accommodating those who love both the land roaming and sea swishing creatures, in what sounded seemingly like generous portions we were all smiles, so far.
An even medley of surf and turf options, scallops and langoustines versus rib eye and sirloin, with an adequate amount of sides and surprisingly a generous variety of salads, lentils and pancetta or mixed leaves with feta. Surprising as there was an absence of onion rings and other obvious sides of that ilk, but then not so since the diner league was clearly one Red Hook felt it had surpassed.
After the critical decision making we sipped our blackberry tinged Merlot and bided our hunger with gossip and nuggets of bread. “Interim bread” is usually not worth more than a mention but their French baton slices were beautiful. Crunchy and flour dusted on the outside and perfectly warm, loosening up the lashing of butter a treat – a little dressed crab would have iced that cake well and truly.

In terms of food proper, we all naturally opted for steak; funnily enough our preference of cooking baffled our waiter more. Apparently medium-rare-rare or rare-medium-french style had no weight on our waiter or the chef as all five arrived medium rare. Accompaniments left us divided as half went for some unfortunately mediocre French fries and the other half sampling an array of smaller dishes, this including some delectable scallops and deep fried soft shell crab.
 Being big on surf and turf I went for langoustines and steak, which from a distance looked quite sizeable. Though when stripped back to meat quantity after much cracking and sticky fingers was meagre and disappointing. This being weighed up against my last comparable meal at Singapore’s Bobby Rubino's where I had the time of my life with three prawns the size of mackerels and half a rack of spare ribs and where sticky fingers were no hassle at all. The problem with langoustines served up this way is they are more for the drama of the dish, rather than the for bountiful meat content which the steak failed to top up. Everything was cooked up perfectly fine, I particularly enjoyed the peppercorn sauce which bizarrely tasted like hot dogs, but I was still pining for more. More flavour, more punch, more meat, or at least enough for my buck. Perhaps I should have gone for the sea faring variety as our other half of the table were gaily tucking into the scallops and crab, although their distinctive coos of pleasure when eating something truly delicious were absent.
Red Hook-ed we were not. The emphasis was on style whilst food and delivery were playing catch up. There were elements of the meal that were good but they were not the main attraction, and although service was professional and polite more often than not prompting was needed  rather than a given. The cocktail sipping crowd next door got it right, soaking in the best parts of the place with the option to dabble a little deeper if so wished.

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