Restaurant Review: Speakeasy, N16

Jon Dean hits and 20s style burger joint

�Prohibition-era style venues are very much in vogue at the moment on both sides of the Atlantic.

Head to the more fashionable bars in London and New York and you’ll find you have to ring doorbells, climb through fridges or even dial secret codes on a telephone to gain access.

All this harks back to America in the 1920s, a time when alcohol was illegal and people sought their kicks in various illicit drinking dens.

Although Prohibition contributed to a rampant criminal underworld, the bars themselves are seen as easygoing, cool places that you have to be in the know to go to and Speakeasy, a new gourmet burger kitchen on Stoke Newington High Street, has got this vibe down to a tee.

Unassuming from the outside, inside the place is sleek and groovy, with wooden barstools and a black and white tiled floor.

The likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone waft sultrily from the speakers and even the waiters look the part in tanks tops and flat caps.

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The menu itself is a bombastic collection of American favourites – burgers, ribs and milkshakes feature heavily.

There is also a very well-stocked bar, with plenty of spirits and cocktails, so we had a delicious daiquiri and a Clarence the Sailor (Sailor Jerry, honey, lime and ginger) to wet our whistles.

Foodwise, we got going with the combo platter for two, a hearty collection of fried seafood and chicken with tortilla chips and a pot of fantastic home-made salsa.

The mushrooms were huge and satisfying and the prawns a barbecued triumph. The hot wings came out a little cold, but the tasty marinade made up for it.

Pig that I am, I then ordered the rompa chompa steak burger – the biggest available. This was a succulent cut of beef smothered with fried onions, mushrooms and a tangy blue cheese sauce. It came with a pot of creamy coleslaw and chunky herby chips, all of which had big, friendly flavours.

There is nothing subtle about the rompa, but it hit the spot like a pure beef sharpshooter.

I washed all this down with a Blue Moon beer, a refreshing if slightly scented beverage served with an orange slice.

Across the table, my other half chose the mash and burgers – your choice of two home-made patties served with garlic mash and gravy.

Really spicy

If that sounds to good to be true, well it pretty much was. Rich, tasty gravy, smooth potato and a Punjab burger (not very spicy) with a Tex-Mex burger (really quite spicy), this dish had everything.

My only criticism would be that the garlic mash didn’t, in fact, taste of garlic, although it was still pleasant.

It’s a rare day that I don’t order a dessert, so it says a lot for the portion size at Speakeasy Burgers that I didn’t even consider it.

The prices are also very reasonable for the amount of food you get – you won’t find a main more than a tenner.

With a three-piece jazz band set for weekend nights and a new bourbon bar to be opened downstairs, things look likely to get exciting on this stretch of the A10.