We have been big fans of Temper restaurant since they opened their doors in Soho. A BBQ restaurant with a South American influence serving up amazing dishes; it’s all about meat and boy do they know how to cook it! We were naturally very excited to hear they had opened a second branch in the City, this time taking influence from Indian cooking techniques. Off we trotted on a drizzling Thursday evening for what promised to be another amazing experience…alas the rain wasn’t the only thing to dampen our spirits.
Let’s start with the venue itself. Another great location and we love the integration of the open plan room and kitchen, they have ensured the interior design is on brand and consistent with Soho. Great smiling staff who seemed happy to be looking after you. We ordered a white wine whilst we waited for our friends to arrive. 30 minutes later, friends present and onto our second jug of water we asked for the 3rd time if our wine would be making an appearance soon. It finally arrived and we were surprised to be poured wine from a carafe (we could be wrong but we don’t remember reading that the house wines were from the cask) – but regardless, it was a tasty drop at a good price.
For entrées, we went with our waiter’s favourite four dishes; sharing the mutton roll, Korean haggis, squid & samphire pakora and the aged beef mince & tatties. We loved the squid; great texture and a perfect size to share between four, packed with lightly spiced flavours. The other dishes underwhelmed us; our waiter had to instruct how best to eat the tatties (stirring it all up to infuse the flavours), but even mashed up it was still unimpressive. One word to sum up all three dishes was ‘earthy’. No dish had any outstanding herb or spice flavours that tantalised the palate. Not sure what was happening, but starters are usually a scene-setter for things to come and this made us nervous.
For mains, our waiter encouraged us each to order a ‘nude’ Thali plate, which sounded exciting and different from a traditional vegetable, rice and dahl Thali. Temper’s Thali plate comes with a paratha (bread), lettuce leaf, fresh mint leaves (still on the stalk), spiced fried potato strings, slices of tomato, chargrilled sweet (but very hot) chillies, turmeric pickles, yoghurt & tamarind sauce and peshwari dust. This is charged at £5 a head, then you order a curry dish (the menu gives a curry only price and the price of the curry with the Thali, so it caused confusion as our waiter was trying to explain that we should all order the ‘nude’ Thali then get curries to share. Nowhere on the menu did it recommend the £5 ‘nude’ Thali). We got there in the end though.
We had another long wait for our main courses, and when they did arrive (accompanied by apologies) we shared a smoked duck masala and the dry goat curry with our Thali plates. One their own, both dishes were nice (not amazing), and under instruction from our waiter we then added seasoning from the Thali plate, which resulted in the original flavours being overridden by the herbs, sauces and dried spices provided (almost becoming one completely new dish). We couldn’t quite grasp the concept of paying for a dish that we then edited. We think we would have preferred the expertise of the chefs to deliver amazing dishes that stood out on their own merit. We also believe one Thali for the table would have been sufficient and felt we were up-sold on this. We would have preferred a more appropriate side dish, such as a rice for the wet curry (the duck sauce being really watery) but that wasn’t on the menu.
In good news, the Temper we know and love delivered on what we feel is its niche: flavoursome meat dishes from the BBQ. We ordered from the grill a half tandoori chicken and a pork rib in XO sauce. Both dishes were outstanding and moorish and we wished we had skipped the curries and concentrated on this section of the menu. We couldn’t pass on a side of fries & curry sauce and the only salad item on the menu; two quarter wedges of an iceberg lettuce with cumin chickpeas and preserved lemon dressing. Just OK.
Needing something sweet we decided to try each of the three desserts: sweet roti with pears and condensed milk, the bananaramadrama and a chocolate & turmeric torte. The turmeric on the torte was overpowering and sucked up all the moisture in one’s mouth – our waiter advised we’d be better scraping it off the dish, meaning they’d now given us eating guidance for every course! The sweetness of the condensed milk dominated the roti dish and masked any flavour from the pear. The bananaramadrama consisted of fried battered fresh banana pieces with caramel sauce, ice cream and actual Haribo banana chews. Rich in flavour this dish had mixed views but was definitely the best from the dessert menu.
Phew! We had already written a very different review in our head before we got to the restaurant, so this took us by complete surprise. On paper, knowing what Soho delivers to the table, we expected another gastronomic experience but we were left scratching our heads on how the City branch failed to wow us. Temper City doesn’t seem the same restaurant as it’s sibling; gone is the assortment of grilled meat served by weight, instead a longer menu of curries and steaks is further confused by the off-menu Thali plate and the need for constant instruction from the staff. We’re puzzling if we were just badly advised by our waiter, but notwithstanding the food, the overall experience and slow service just didn’t cut it. Sometimes the original is the best so we’ll look forward to heading back to Temper Soho.
Dinner for 4 with a carafe of wine and service was £50pp.