Wednesday, 7 January 2009
After nearly two years, 124 entries and over 100 restaurant reviews, it appears we may finally have a scoop on our hands here at Cheese and Biscuits. A quick Google for 'Genco restaurant London' brings up an Athens-based import company, a barbers and a male grooming specialist, but no Mediterranean restaurant in Shoreditch. So, you heard it here first, unless Dos Hermanos manage to post a review in the next few hours, and I wouldn't put it past them.
With brand-new fittings and fixtures, a light and airy dining room and a decent spot on busy Curtain Road, Genco certainly has had a lot of capital lavished on it, and much of it to good effect. Tables and chairs are comfortable and classy, there is a silent Laurel and Hardy film projected onto one wall, which is a nice touch, and the service was smart and efficient and very friendly. These are all good things. They spoiled the atmosphere slightly by playing extremely loud 80s pop hits (think the Bangles followed by George Michael) throughout our lunch, but as we were the only people eating today they probably needed to get background noise from somewhere.
A few seeds of doubt were sown by the menu, which calls itself "Mediterranean", as if that really means anything, and yet seems largely Turkish. Turkish, that is, if you ignore the Full English and smoked salmon baguette and chips from the breakfast menu. Fearful I might have wandered into another Bogayo (attempt a dish from every different country and cuisine in the world, and cook them all equally poorly), I was happy to see the lunch and dinner menus containing more authentic dishes and was very reasonably priced at £9 or so for a starter and main.
My "Pacanga boregi" were at least fresh and light and cooked to order, but were only really just above the level of chain bar mezze. A main course bowl of "Kuzu guvec" was kind of a tomato lamb casserole with cheese, using good tomatoes and tender chunks of lamb, again hardly earth-shattering. Better was a friend's "Kuzu sis", with huge chunks of gorgeously charcoal-grilled meat, which went down very well. But we are still essentially talking about a kebab, on a plate. Haute cuisine it ain't.
But then of course, at £17 for a hearty lunch for two, you can't, and we didn't, expect haute cuisine. Genco is a very reasonably priced, comfortable spot for a bit of grilled meat of a lunchtime and for all my creeping disappointment about the level of ambition of the kitchen, there is always a place in the world for an unassuming, straightforward Turkish restaurant. But is it too much to hope for that one day I will eat at a Turkish restaurant in London that exceeds my expectations? Time will tell, I suppose.