Pop-ups are all the rage at the moment and are definitely expanding their definition. Forget a temporary shop for two-weeks – Rotary Bar & Diner are open for a full 10 months. And when I found out that they would be offering meaty things with 25% off for their soft opening, I couldn’t resist a trip.
Capitalising on the notion of “pop-up” and the general dilapidated-cum-trendy feel of Shoreditch, Rotary Bar & Diner is contains a variety of styles and patterns, high and low diner-style tables and pots of mismatched cutlery.
Our waitress was incredibly friendly and relaxed, and was evidently learning on the job as she explained the menu to us.
The menu offers buns and barbecued meat, as well as a range of choices form the grill. We both took ribeyes (£20 for 300g) with the ‘house sauce’ – a green peppercorn sauce. The food arrived incredibly promptly and, although it served on an ugly plate and in a manner that made me think of dodgy school canteens, the giant ribeye steak boldly sitting in the middle dispelled this notion. After all, no canteen serves steak.
My main concern when presented with this was not “How am I going to eat it all?” but “How am I going to eat tonight when I’m going to a potluck party tonight and it’s already past 3pm?!” Steak always comes first, however.
I have very high steak expectations but I was very pleased with the beast before me. First of all – and always a good sign – my steak was cooked medium-rare, just as I asked. It was also fairly tender – probably 7 on a scale from 1 (not tender) to 10 (very tender) – and it tasted properly steaky and flavourful, like a good quality piece of meat should. The sauce was slightly sweet and really quite delicious. A minor point – I think the steak could have done with some more seasoning because when I had a mouthful without sauce, I wanted to add some salt and pepper.
However, my tastebuds might have been biased – or rather, obliterated – by the dripping cooked chips, which were so over-salted that my companion and I ended up trying to scrape the salt off them!
The chips themselves were tasty and crispy but our mouths were burning by the end of the meal. However, our waitress was wonderfully receptive to my comments, explaining that they were keen for lots of feedback. I hope they’ve fixed this problem by now.
We couldn’t say no to salted milk chocolate ‘pudding cup’ (£5) – a kind of rich and dense chocolate mousse. I had the salted caramel peanuts for a topping, which again overdid the salt! I’m also more of a dark chocolate fan.
My friend got crushed Oreos which provided a bit of relief from the salt. Yum.
Rotary Bar & Diner 4/5 – A few creases to iron out, but go for real comfort food – delicious, good quality meat.
Food 4/5 – Stop with the salt! But otherwise, very good.
Service 5/5 – Had a laugh with our waitress. She was very attentive.
Value 4/5 – For the size and quality, I have no complaints.
Atmosphere 3/5 – Um, dining at 3.30pm on a Thursday during a soft opening wasn’t the best time to determine this. But it felt very chilled out.
Rotary Bar & Diner
70 City Road EC1Y 2BJ