Monday, 26 August 2013

The Rotary, Old Street: filth, glorious filth

Probably the best chicken burger I've ever had.

So after my experience at Mahiki's Rock Lobsta (sic), where if I hadn't paid half price I might have gone postal at the sight of the bill, I wasn't that keen to go to another Carl Clarke restaurant. Along with the roller disco restaurant (which surely is just asking for a dreadful stitch) I decided in my head he was all style over substance.

But my burger-loving colle
ague came across the Rotary, just south of Old Street roundabout, and was adamant we had to go. He watched my heart sink as I thought about another overpriced attempt to doing something straight laced in a "punk" way. I can assure you, the only punk in the world with enough money to eat at Rock Lobsta is Iggy Pop, or John Lydon since that gut-wrenching butter advert.

I've gone past the Rotary many a time, glancing into its spacious, seemingly soulless interior, then heading straight past it to Yum Bun. It seems I've been making a mistake.

Not every time mark you. If you ate what I ate at Rotary every day, not only would your afternoons in the office become more sleep ridden than an unemployed narcoleptic's, but you'd also be larger than Lisa Riley in about a week. Their food is pure filth. Pure, gorgeous filth.

Burger me

I had the chicken burger, the healthy cop out. But at £12 I was expecting something pretty special, and this one was no compromise. Deep fried in what felt like an inch of batter, coated in spoonfuls of tangy, moreish burger sauce and topped with crunchy shredded veg it was almost more than a man should, or even could, stand. At first bite there was nothing clever, but on second look it was genius. How the bun didn't turn to mush I don't know, how the batter was crispy even in the sauce is a mystery, and how I managed to eat it is a question I'm still asking myself. Sometimes I have Vietnam-style flashbacks as I sweated and strained my way through it, but I never wanted to stop.

The chips were the perfect mix of trash and genius too. Looking and initially tasting like the perfect McDonald's chips – the ones in your head before you get the box of droopy starchy twigs – they were so much more satisfying, with their meaty flavours from the beef dripping. Not a place for vegetarians then. 

And that's the only issue with the Rotary. Just like at Clarke's Rock Lobsta (sic) I have no idea who would eat there. We went on a Thursday lunchtime, when office workers try to convince themselves the weekend is almost upon them, and it was pretty much dead. It was,
in all truthfulness, far, far too much for lunch. I felt like a bag of sand for about 24 hours. So it's an evening thing, but I rather think most people run from Old Street as soon as 5.30 hits. It's not really somewhere you want to stick around in unless you're headed to Fifteen, the Nightjar or the Old Fountain. I admire Clarke's ballsy approach for putting restaurants where they don't belong (Silicon roundabout, a roller disco and a crap nightclub) but whether it makes business sense I don't know.

Still, I'll be back. But I might skip breakfast beforehand.

The Rotary Bar & Diner on Urbanspoon   Square Meal

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