As a Clarence Court Egg lover and regular Smokehouse customer I have been looking forward to the opening of Neil Rankin’s new eatery in Moorgate. I was unsure what to expect of the new eggy concept but hoped that whatever was going to be on offer would be at least as delightful as the food served in his Islington flagship.
From the outside Bad Egg looks a bit like an American Diner, maybe like a Byron. No offence. Its location inside an impressive mall on Ropemaker Street is a somewhat odd choice – Bad Egg feels much more rebellious than the surrounding franchised eateries and their clientele, but maybe a hint of rebellion will do City Point some good.
Bad Egg surprised me. It could have been the instigator of an egg revolution, with some sort of re-invention of the egg as an ingredient. Okay … maybe that is a bit much.
But it could have served strange concoctions and totally surprising dishes – and maybe that is what I was secretly hoping for. You couldn’t blame me as the connection to historical egg dishes of various regions was one of the talking points in many PR pieces ahead of the opening. But it turns out that is actually not what Bad Egg is about or even trying to do. Instead it feels very much like it has its roots firmly placed within the culture of John Salt. With Rankin’s connection this doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but if you are expecting something really different, then you probably should look elsewhere.
As a logical consequence the dishes on offer are old favourites such as ribs, fried chicken and burgers with the option of eggs on top. Maybe a bit flippant, but I would comfortably admit that most of the menu items are perfectly enjoyable without the yolky topping. It makes it hard to take the idea too seriously.
Maybe a better way to enjoy the food is to accept that it is a simple concept and unpretentious in its nature. Do I want an egg on top of my fries? Yes why not. Do I think it is an amazing idea? No. But enough of my party pooping.
One thing that needs a special mention are the baked egg dishes which stand out from the other choices on the menu, not only for actually having a variety of food groups included – note to self: batter is not a food group – but also because they are egg dishes that aren’t just using the concept as a gimmick. There is some cultural influences of the Middle East, India or South Americas – and the flavours were all there, the yolks were runny and buttery and the tacos (in our Huevos Rancheros) added a really crunchy additional texture. Very nice. There are 2 others – The Samba and Queso and also the Goats Curd and Harissa baked eggs. A real shame we were too stuffed to try them.
Also, as mentioned many times elsewhere, I am a big chicken wing lover, and the Korean Fried wings were gooey, sticky goodness. Perfect. I am aware of the irony that this was a non egg dish, but they really were my favourite!
As you can possibly begin to notice the dishes became a little bit hard to distinguish from each other after a while, not only visually but also in terms of taste. Another egg on top dish was the fried potatoes, fried chicken dish below. Tasted like breakfast. Like good, nutritious hangover breakfast.
Bad Egg is a fun place that suffers little bit from the constraints of its own concept. Being egg themed might not mean that you are gimmicky, but stating that some vibrant culinary traditions (of the egg) are being pushed here seems like a bit of a stretch to me.
The food is very enjoyable but similar to other places in London such as John Salt, Spuntino or maybe even Meat Liquor, without a doubt formidable company. But not enough really stood out to distinguish Bad Egg from its brothers and sisters. I do love the fact that it exists, but with all taken into account I much rather continue frequenting Smokehouse, but maybe that is just me.