I’ve read the adoring reviews arguing:
- The food offered at Black Axe Mangal can’t be found any where else in London (true).
- The chef is the ex head chef of St John Bread and Wine (true).
- There’s a book at the till where you’re asked to knock out you best dick pic with a pen (true).
- The music doesn’t vary from heavy metal at all times (true).
- The Turkish oven is stencilled with KISS motifs
But I’ve also read the few and far between reviews who offer a more critical take:
- Ironic blokey cocktails
- Insanely loud heavy metal music
- The food being a general chore to eat
Hearing such diametrically opposed views need a personal visit and that’s exactly what I did before seeing a DMA’s gig in North London recently.
It certainly is an assault on the senses and may take you aback if you walk in not completely knowing the experience you’re about to have. The room is pretty bare bones which does make acoustics an issue if you’re going to engage in a deep and meaningful – but keep that out of restaurants and back in the bedroom.
It’s a tight space but Lee Tiernan (ex Fergus Henderson crew) makes the most of it with a pizza oven and tiny kitchen. We kick things off with lamb offal flatbread. It’s a nice decent serving with flavours that punch above its weight and has a hint of proper spice that permeates the other dishes that come out over the next hour.
On the menu as squid in and salt cod flatbread – I had to conquer my fear of eggs when I cracked open the fresh yolk perched in the centre of this dish. One to attack with your hands – this was a standout dish that needs to be on your order when you visit.
The Mission Chinese pig cheek ‘salad’ was the meatiest salad I have encountered since the chicken Caesar salad was invented. It’s a Mission Chinese salad due to the tingling seasoning mix that has been inspired by the US stalwart. It certainly has brings the spice punch to the party and I’m thinking this will divide fans – esepcially if this was possibly your only green saving grace on a meat-filled menu.
I finished off with the smoked mutton and kidney sizzler. Nice but a little underwhelming after trying those other dishes first.
I’m not totally convinced that I need to return to Black Axe Mangal – especially with Meatliquor N1 opening just down the road as a good option for feeding and drinking. I also fear of the people that haven’t had the fortune to properly experiment with offal yet. Waiting for a table then finding a menu that’s foreign to them might already get them off on the wrong foot. Either way you need to try it at least once to see what side of the Black Axe you sit on.
Contact: Black Axe Mangal – 156 Canonbury Road, Islington, London N1 2UP. Website.