When Black Axe Mangal opened in 2015 there was plenty of fanfare. Everyone raved about the riotous atmosphere at this tiny restaurant on Highbury Corner. The heavy metal blaring from the speakers, the cans of beer cracking all around you, the scent of smoky stuff from its Kiss-decorated oven. There was some vague Turkish inspiration with dishes like doner kebabs but made from lamb tongue and covered in Mission Chinese spice. B.A.M. could never be truly categorised. We would say it was a bonfire restaurant—in that you’d smell like one by the end of the night. But after its pandemic closure, B.A.M. reopened as F.K.A.B.A.M—a restaurant that is a tribute to, well, itself.
The restaurant Formerly Known As Black Axe Mangal is still in the same place, serving much of the same food and the reasons you come here are also largely the same. Boisterous flavours and atmosphere are still a priority. Although the crowd, like anything that was in vogue years ago, has branched out to your family friends. These days it offers a monthly changing set menu at around £50 for five courses to share between two people. One month the inimitable and otherworldly squid ink flatbread may be on, the other it could be owner and head chef Lee Tiernan’s take on St. John’s famous bone marrow—a nod to the restaurant where he spent a decade.
The spot's moniker is an homage to a great artist, although the only thing purple and rain-like at F.K.A.B.A.M is the borscht back. A vodka shot, a borscht shot, and a bit of frankfurter on a stick. Essential but, incidentally, an added supplement to the set menu. A Sign o' the Times indeed. There’s no doubt that F.K.A.B.A.M is still fire-filled and fun. But this is a greatest hits tour. A restaurant that’s become a tribute to itself. The noise, the flavours, the expectations, and the price—they’ve outgrown this 30-odd seater space. For a one-night gig F.K.A.B.A.M is still a blast. But what everyone wants to know most is… what’s next?
There’s a meat or vegetarian/vegan changing menu option every month at F.K.A.B.A.M and, if you’ve been before, expect to recognise some old friends. The foie gras and prune doughnut, a dish that, like Paris Hilton’s music career, is so wrong it’s right. That glittering black hole-ish squid ink and cod’s roe flatbread. The lamb offal flatbread—a feistier, meatier lahmacun on heat. Fried chicken covered in Mission spice just waiting to devilishly dance around your mouth. That crispy rabbit. What you should know is that both bolt-on dishes not included in the price, the borscht back and the flatbread, are definitely worth your while.