We’re mugs in London, we really are. Not always, but we definitely have muggish tendencies. Sometimes we’re pretty savvy – God knows we like to think we are – but it’s not hard to back us into a corner with spin and PR and word of mouth and mug us good and proper. We built this city on hype and hyperbole.
We do things no-one else in the country would consider, like spending 2/3 of our rent on shoebox digs (a failing always frogmarched to the front of our mind when “provincial” friends and family come to try and visit), or like spending £35 on a burger. I stand by most of these idiotic transgressions though; the sky high rent is offset by an arts and culture program rivalled only by New York, while that burger was worth every penny.
It’s when we’re blinded by bluster and made to look fools I’m not so keen on. When we’re coerced into thinking we’re buying into some new trend when we’re really being taken for a ride. Through Gullible City. Via Jackass Underpass, right up to the Hungerford Bridge.
London’s Mexican Revolution is a case in point. It’s nothing of the sort. It’s a series of mediocre eateries – Tortilla, Flying Burrito, Chilango, Benito’s Hat, Pacifico – propped up by one or two great, but bloody pricey places like Mestizo, Crazy Homies and the now defunct Green & Red, that would be laughed out of Oaxaca. Although, actually, Wahaca’s alright. On the whole, though, they’re typical London translations one and all – driven by greed and laziness but most of all complacency, safe in the knowledge Londoners will suck it and lap it up in equal measure.
And so to the great Street Food scam. Does one or two upmarket fast food vans a zeitgeist make? Sure, the Meat Wagon’s burger was worth the forty minute wait (even if I felt like a proper chump queueing up for one), and I’ve heard great things about Lucky Chip. The next biggest must-do is Pitt Cue Co and I got to say they’re letting the team down.
The disappointment is always proportional to the anticipation and for that I’m to blame. Although I was spirited there through all manner of recommendations. Go near the internet right now and you’ll be blown back by praise for this place; you’d think they were serving the slow cooked second coming on a plate.
A London take on US BBQ and LA food trucks (though don’t tell that to Kogi), they’re famed for their meat. Which meat? “It says on the board”. A friendly start but uniquely London. Turns out it’s smoked and slow cooked pulled pork, beef brisket and pork ribs. I hastily went for the former, lest I take up any more of the friendly guy’s time, and found it uninteresting, mushy, and not dissimilar to some late night pig feasts I’ve encountered at festivals over the years. It was stingey too – a couple of miserly tongs worth, sat on an overgrown bed of gunky coleslaw and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dollop of BBQ sauce.
The best meat, the stuff that makes you close your eyes and praise the gods of carne, the really good stuff that makes Morrissey go green at the demented gills, demands to be eaten alone and unadorned for several mouthfuls before you even think of sauce or beans or bread or anyone around you. This was a long way from that. And as we sat on some little buckets, contemplating our place among the cutting edge of London’s gourmet elite – alongside, ahem, any Tom, Dick and tourist passing by one of the city’s most popular spots – we felt a little bit like we’d been had.
Maybe I got them on a bad day. It’s obviously a popular place, and stepping very much in the right direction. They’re flying through the orders and making a killing, so fair play. Meanwhile I’ll just wait in the bunker for the real revolution to begin. This one makes Jamie Oliver look like Che.
Price per head: £7
Clientele: Any old mug passing by
Soundtrack: Self-conscious guilty pleasures like Bonnie Tyler. I suggest listening to Grails instead.
Website: You having a laugh? Twitter mate, and they’re popping off in a few months, naturally.