Are you the sort of person that wants to eat delicious food and rock out at the same time? If so, then B.A.M is the place for you.
A few days after I’d posted about my birthday dinner at Tredwell’s I received a text from my friend. “Rare indeed!” it read “Fancy a trip to Black Axe Mangal?” I had no idea what it was, but it sounded a bit bad-ass, so naturally I said “Sure!”
I then went to the ‘oracle’ to find out what I had just agreed to. I skimmed Fay Maschler’s review, one of the first things to come up. In addition to her loving the food, she had also considered it a journalistic duty to bring up the penis graffiti on the floor. Naturally, since she had deemed it worthy of a mention, that was the first thing I looked for when I walked in the door. I couldn’t really see anything much to speak of, just a few small chalk ones on the sign outside, not dissimilar to the sort of ‘art’ the boys would bestow on the bathroom doors when I was in high school.
This made me wonder whether she was slightly prudish, or I was unperceptive and overly desensitized. A conclusion being non-forthcoming, I decided that perhaps the penis’ she was talking about were no longer there, and I gave her (and myself) the benefit of the doubt.
I feel when I walk in, that I have just entered a very small, sleek and sophisticated bikers club house (if bikers used floral tablecloths). The wood fire oven is humming away and the staff, (including Lee Tiernan himself) are oozing a sort of effortless cool that is indicative of the vibe of a place that knows what it’s doing, and does it like clockwork, with eyes closed and zen radiating.
A bit of an oxymoron I suppose, considering the music that blasts through the joint. It’s frankly, anything but zen. There feels like such an order to things though. The dishes come out perfectly spaced, and the front of house are attentive and aware.
The food is like a journey. My friend and I are sharing, and as each dish appears, it feels like a new chapter of the same book.
First is the smoked cod’s roe with crisps, followed by the king cabbage with fermented shrimps butter and lamb offal flat bread. This finished, the charred onions, curd and pomegranate and falafel, with roast garlic and tarragon lands in front of us. It’s all delicious. The cod’s roe and cabbage are my favourite. I have to suspend brain activity while I consume the offal flatbread (i’m a little squeamish about these ‘offally’ things) but that in no way diminishes my enjoyment.
I find the falafel inside a bit dry and crumbly, falafel is one of those things I get pernickety about, but the flavours are punchy, and I love how the flat bread is served. Pocked and a little bit charred, freshly baked and hot from the oven, sitting luxuriously on a piece of tin foil.
Towards the end of the meal my friend begins to find the music a bit grating. I don’t mind it though. I am, after all, one of those annoying people that enjoys chair dancing when they are happily eating something. I might have head banged in this scenario, if space had allowed it. I’ll have to consider doing that next time.
Black Axe Mangal – 156 Canonbury Road, London. N1 2UP.