We’re always a bit weary when there’s lots of noise around something. We remember how they hyped the Millennium Dome, we remember green ketchup, and by god do we remember Jar Jar Binks. With that in mind, we had some concerns about Black Axe Mangal: a twenty-five seater restaurant doing slightly mental food soundtracked to heavy metal music that’s been Highbury’s worst kept secret for a while now. The sort of place you’d think your Dad would either grimace his way through or, worse, say “this rocks”, and you would grimace for the rest of your life. Thankfully though, it’s neither of these things.
Yes, it’s loud inside, but B.A.M definitely isn’t just noise. More than anything, it’s fun. From the moment you walk in, your senses go into overdrive. Cans cracking, stuff smoking, Slayer slaying. And that’s before we get to the best part: the food. B.A.M used to bill itself as Turkish-inspired, but this was a very loose definition, and that’s a good thing. There are some things that fit this, like the flatbreads. Toppings like fresh herbs and dressed peppers are of your usual variety, but lamb offal or oxtail, anchovy and dripping are not. It’s familiar but different. And it’s also delicious. Things get a lot less Turkish-inspired the more you order, deep fried guinea fowl wings fall into this category, as does the squid ink and cod’s roe flatbread, a dish so black, white, and glittery that it looks like the offspring of Gene Simmons and Lady Gaga. It’s all part of the fun and you don’t want to miss out on any of it, so don’t order politely.
The great thing about B.A.M is that it’s not only the food that surprises you, the atmosphere does as well. It could be awful. Imagine your dad in a restaurant that’s a) loud, b) smelly, and c) only offering you bizarre and egotistical flavour combinations that the chef’s thought up whilst looking in the mirror. But that’s not what this place is about. It’s loud here because every person sitting down is laughing and shouting through mouthfuls over the music. It’s smelly because the wood-fire oven is in the same room as you and lamb is being smoked and pumpkins are being smashed (and roasted). The flavours aren’t egotistical - because a foie gras and prune doughnut actually works.
It’s good when things live up to their hype, but it’s even better when things go above and beyond, and that’s how we feel about Black Axe Mangal. Take your parents for lunch on the weekend. Take your partner for dinner on a weekday. Take your mates after a few round the corner. Take our word for it.
The B.A.M trademark. If unicorns were real and they could sh*t, this is what it would look and taste like. Creamy cod’s roe, smokey flatbread, and egg yolk. This is as smooth as they come.
Essentially a giant fishfinger. Only made with slow-cooked rabbit. So a rabbitfinger. It’s good.
A lahmacun on heat. The bread is crispy and soft, the meat smoky and tender, the salads vinegary and fresh.
Like Paris Hilton’s DJ career, this is so wrong but so right. It’s sweet, rich, and a bit dirty.
We have no idea what’s in this spice mix but it’s as addictive as that other kind of spice you read about in the news.
This was nice. There were some funky prawn cracker style things with it as well. Sorry, we were quite drunk.