THE ENGINEER: PASSABLE PUB GRUB IN PRIMROSE HILL
I hate fat chips. I just bleedin’ hate them. I hate them with a passion normally only reserved for Jamie Oliver and Martin Amis.
There is nothing positive to be said about fat chips. They usually still have their skins on, which is just lazy on the part of the cooks, they don’t get crisp enough on the outside and the insides are often undercooked too. They are one of the great horrors of British food and yet, many restaurants proclaim them with pride on their menus as if being unable to make a decent chips is a badge of honour.
At The Engineer in Primrose Hill, they call them “Baker Fries” which means nothing to me except that the Bakers must not have been very nice people as these were some of the nastiest chips I can recall eating in a very long time indeed. A great shame, because the rest of my simple and quick lunch proved to be perfectly passable, if hardly memorable.
My original choice of a pre-meeting lunch was going to be Sardo Canale until I realised that, like 90% of the other restaurants in Primrose Hill, it was closed on Monday lunchtime. So, spotting empty spaces in the dining room of The Engineer across the road, I ducked in and took a table in the corner where I could play with my new Blackberry Storm in peace and quiet.
A starter of Caesar Salad was well priced at £4 and, while no chefs were harmed in its making, I have had a lot worse versions.
Much of the menu is an odd confusion of ingredients “Salmon with Chorizo and Carrot Raita” anyone? No, I thought not and (irony alert) much as the idea of a baked Dolcelatte Cheesecake appealed, I put aside the thought of how much beef I had been eating recently and ordered an organic hamburger as it was the one dish that did not come with a mismatched and ill judged ingredient.
It did however come with those fat chips, which after trying one or two in the name of research, I pushed to the side of my plate to sit looking on like a fat kids on sports day. The burger itself was not bad. Very, very good beef served rare and with a lovely char, just enough toppings and the perfect bread bun toasted to just the right level. A side of coleslaw too was well made, but my eyes kept being drawn back to those damn chips.
It’s not cheap and with a well kept and poured pint of St Peter’s Golden Ale at £3.40 a pop, the bill came to £23, which included a charge for service that could not have been more charming if it walked around with a book balanced on its head.
The Engineer is hardly a destination restaurant but, if you are in the area, particularly on a Monday when every other bugger is closed, it’s worth dipping into. Just don’t order the chips.