Sunday, 1 February 2015

Bad Egg, City Point, Moorgate

The City of London is a bit of a dead spot for decent eating, especially if you do not have a big corporate expense account. Bad Egg, situated in the semi-mall in the sanitised bowels of City Point, is a bit of an anomaly. With its stripped back industrial look and neon signage, it would be more at home in Soho or Dalston. But it's here, surrounded by Wagamamas and Pitcher and Pianos for the undiscerning City crowd.

Considering the buzz about it, thanks to its delicious sounding menu and the fact that it's owned by the Smokehouse's Neil Rankin, it's surprisingly not heaving on the payday Friday evening we visit. That said, it's only been open a month, it's a freezing cold January night, and they've only just started taking bookings in the evening. That's a good move - I imagine punters prefer the certainty of a table if they're heading to a neighbourhood with few other decent options.

Bad Egg is well worth the trip. It's a fancy, innovative take on the short order diner, with a menu of American, Mexican and Asian flavoured dishes. It's quite simple: there are eggs, burgers, ribs, fries, tacos and side salads, but every dish is a couple of levels above what you'd expect.

The ribs were incredible. The meat was slow cooked and full of deep flavours, then deep fried to give it a crunchy coated bite. One big rib is your portion, and there was lots of meat and not much bone. I ordered the buffalo rib, with a spicy peppery sauce and a blue cheese dip. A classic combination and well done. My friend had the Korean rib which was smothered in a sticky soy, ginger and gochujang sauce.

Korean flavour make a good few appearances on the menu. We order pulled pork and kimchi fries, which have big pulls of moist, smoky, pungent pork, coated in a kimchi dressing rather than discernible bits of kimchi. Very nice.

The selection of side salads was an impressive counter-balance to the salty, meaty dude food. A Korean slaw was a spicy, zingy kimchi-led salad, with a nice combination of textures thanks to the slimy kimchi and crispy cabbage. A kale and shiitake mushroom salad was our highlight of the plate (any 3 salads for £10), it came in a sweet gingery dressing and topped with toasted hazelnuts.

Neil Rankin has been keen to quash talk among pundits that this is some gimmicky egg themed restaurant. I've got this far without mentioning them, but the eggs are great and they make some stunning appearances in the dishes. The Bad Oeuf burger is a thick medium rare beef patty in a brioche bun, mustard and pickles. But a soft egg yolk and a cheese fondue on top of the patty elevate this beyond your wildest dreams. I'd become a bit jaded with gourmet burgers, but this was something special.

The nduja cheese and fried egg fries are a spin on dirty or chilli cheese fries. The yolk was deep orange and runny, and when chopped up and folded into the molten cheese was something special. The cheese was styled like that plastic Kraft cheese, but I suspect the chefs made it themselves from a carefully chosen combination of real cheeses. My only disappointment of the meal was that the nduja - a spicy, spreadable sausage from Calabria - was not more prominent. I love its strong flavour, but I didn't feel there was enough of it in the dish to really taste its unique fiery punch, especially against the strong flavours in other dishes.

On the Mexican side, my friend's chilaquiles - corn tacos loaded with a fried egg and generous quantities of, salsa, guacamole and goat curd, which was a mild offset to spicy peppers. Another friend's "chicken fried" fish tacos were tasty, but more a snack than a main dish.

Cocktails combine top quality spirits and offbeat mixers and result in surprising concoctions. My Argy Bhaji combined curried apricots, ginger beer and Kamms & Sons liqueur. The gin cocktail combined clementine and sage, and the fantastically titled Misplaced American Arrogance arrogantly mixed Illegal Mezcal and smoky liqueurs for an out of this world taste.

Bad Egg didn't plan on doing desserts, but a waiter said they were working on a dessert menu now. Wise, I think, as a salty, meaty gorging is neatly followed by a sweet kick to power you home, and a lack of decent options in the area means you will need to travel a couple of miles for something half decent. We enjoyed their dulce de leche and peanut butter milkshakes. One between two is certainly enough.

Weekend brunches start in mid February, and it will be worth making the trip. We loved pretty much everything about Bad Egg, and I'll be back to try more from the menu. Now that you can book in the evenings, I suspect more people will venture over for a good filling. We ate well and had a couple of drink each, and it came to £31 a head including tip, which seemed a fair price for the quality, quantity and location.