Written byDavid Paw
Ketchup-flavoured crisps. Olympic curling. KY wrestling smackdowns. These are all things that you might find confusing at first, but also simultaneously exciting.
That’s how we felt the first time we came to Temper, a modern barbecue restaurant in Soho - excited, and also slightly confused. First, when you walk in, you won’t be able to help but notice that someone seems to have dropped a massive fire pit into the middle of a smart brasserie. As you clock the huge joints of various animals being slowly turned over fire in the middle of a small Soho basement, you’ll wonder if you’ve stumbled into a restaurant or an extremely elaborate practical joke.
The meat-centric menu at Temper is different as well - you’re not going to find predictable barbecue standards like pulled pork or pimped hot dogs. Instead, the menu jumps around the world like a millennial with a trust fund. Expect Mexican-inspired dishes like tacos or grilled corn with lamb fat bearnaise, or a red beef curry that goes surprisingly well with a smacked cucumber salad from China. We recommend starting with a few tacos (the ‘cheeseburger’ and pil pil prawn ones are our favourites) and following that up with the animal protein of your choice, which will come with a couple of still-warm flatbreads to tear and wrap said meat in. The whole menu might sound like the brainchild of a slightly stoned teenager who can’t sit still, but Temper manages to pull it all off in a way that feels cohesive and interesting. If anything, our one complaint is that the food here can sometimes feel too cohesive - even though there are dishes from all over the world, most of them are smoky, fatty, and salty, and that can get a slightly repetitive by the end of the meal.
These days, there’s a newer Temper in the City, and we actually even like that one more - it’s a bigger space that suits the over-the-top style even better. The menu there is a bit different as well, leaning more heavily towards curries.
But the original Temper in Soho is still a good option, and one absolutely worth checking out. It’s great for a catch-up date with any friend who will perk up while reading a menu with dishes like ‘beef fat tacos’ or ‘lamb belly masala,’ but it’s civilised enough for actual dates too, so long as the person you’re with isn’t squeamish, or vegan. There’s a long wine list and an interesting variety of mezcals that class the experience up, and if you’re the kind of person who listens to the Beastie Boys on the way to client meetings, you’ll enjoy it. And if those clients are open-minded and up for trying something new, they probably will too. Now let's see if you can get them excited about Olympic curling.
You’ll see this on the menu and either think that it sounds awesome, or totally gross. If it’s the former, you should 100% order it, because we can assure you that they're excellent.
Red Curry Beef Skewer
Red curry paired with meat on a stick is a beautiful marriage. We could eat about five of these.
The lamb and beef is very good at Temper, but the goat is particularly excellent with the just-warm flatbreads. Wash it down with a glass of Irn Bru.
Burnt End Thai Larb
Huge flavour, but the salt needs some acid to balance it out. Ask for extra lime, and a glass of water.
Cookie Dough With Ice Cream
We’ve had a lot of so-so desserts, but this isn’t one of them. It’s hot, sweet, and the ice cream melts so it all becomes a delicious puddly mess. You might consider sharing it, but that would be a mistake.