Jonathan R Jones checks out Lockhouse in Paddington, London.
The culinary backwater of Paddington Basin gets another new casual-dining option in the shape of laid-back burger joint Lockhouse Paddington.
If you’re looking for an after-work bite in Paddington check out this newcomer on the increasingly bustling Paddington Basin. Previously known only as “that place near Paddington where Marks and Spencer’s offices are”, the Basin is becoming a destination thanks to a series of smart new residential and office developments. Lockhouse is a bustling all-day hangout overlooking the Grand Union Canal with a burger-focussed menu that fuses “grab-and-go” dining with relaxed and speedy table service.
Food and Drink
Although this place is all about the burgers we couldn’t resist starting with a couple of the temptations from the bar snack menu. Pulled pork bites with sriracha mayonnaise were heavy balls (easy tiger) of smoky deliciousness (think meaty fish-cakes) with a perfectly crisp shell. But they couldn’t top the salt and pepper squid, which came with a Korean-style chilli dip.
These are the kind of dishes that make you want to drink more. Luckily, there is an extensive choice of cocktails and a very sensible selection of wines, whilst beers include those from the nearby Camden Brewery. From the cocktail list we recommend the Improved Paddington. Don’t be put off by the marmalade (see what they did there?) in this distilled-brandy-based concoction: grapefruit and lemon break through the sweetness to create a surprisingly grown-up drink. We suspect our hairier readers will contemplate how to discreetly slip the cute bear-shaped glass into their man bags! The complex, smoky and bitter-sweet Lock Stock made with tequila, mescal, papaya and fresh lime also hit the spot.
With stiff burger competition in the capital, Lockhouse has quite a challenge to make its mark. That said, when we arrive on a Monday night the place is buzzing with backpackers and after-work suits alike so it’s clearly doing something right. It also recently scooped best signature burger in the National Burger Awards, so our expectations were high.
We tried the Lock ‘n’ Blue, a beef patty with blue cheese, dry-cured bacon and lettuce, and the Hothouse served with jalapenos and American cheese. The former delivered on the cheesy tang whilst the latter didn’t disappoint with a serious chilli kick. The buns are old school, swerving the now-clichéd brioche or unmanageable ciabatta. They were a little too heavy on the creamy Lockhouse burger relish for our liking but a very satisfying mouthful. If you’re hungry – or just greedy – try the unctuous jalapeno and cheese fries or go ‘healthy’ (I know, I know) with sweet potato instead.
I was a little underwhelmed by the Lockabockaglory dessert, perhaps because I was hoping for something the size of my head, based on childhood memories of Pizza Land puddings. Opt instead for the warm chocolate brownie which when we visited came with a delicious salted caramel ice cream. Or perhaps ask yourself, “What am I thinking ordering dessert after the mountain of carbs and protein I have just consumed?!”
A tip for early diners – or afterwork drinkers – all bottles of wine are just £15 from 5-8pm, Monday to Thursday, and all cocktails are just £5 (usually £7.50). And it’s not all about dinner: Lockhouse is open from 8am for a breakfast bap or a lazy brunch, and there’s a tempting selection of “jam jar salads” at lunchtime – as well as those amazing burgers.
Look and Vibe
The interior is saved from industrial by numbers blandness by some quirky touches; we loved the medicine-bottle water jugs and cosmetic-jar condiments. Also worth a mention is the massive, deconstructed red freight container that dominates the bar area and serves as the restaurant’s sign.
The cosiest spots are at the rear but there’s also a huge mezzanine level and plenty of space for dining in the bar area. The flexible zones make it ideal for large parties which the kitchen were serving with military precision when we visited, without neglecting our party of two.
Service was exceptionally friendly and helpful – and pretty prompt to boot. Despite a busy service we never felt rushed.
Around £50 per head based on two bar snacks, two burgers and fries, two desserts, two cocktails and two beers. But you can grab a burger and fries from £9.50 – and don’t forget those fantastic mid-week drinks deals.
The bottom line
Quality cocktails and award-wining burgers this close to Paddington station make Lockhouse worth missing your train for.
Lockhouse Paddington, 3 Merchant Square, Paddington, London W2 1AZ, 020 7706 4253, lockhouselondon.co.uk