I visited London Fields with high hopes and expectations. I hadn’t heard much about the venue except that it was developed by an ex-chef from Public, one of my favourite Brisbane restaurants. If it was anything like Public London Fields would be bursting with ingenuity, creativity, and style; every dish a beautiful new experience.
The restaurant itself is oozing with modern style. It’s a very open space with polished concrete and the faux industrial feel from hanging lights and exposed beams. The outdoor seating beckons you to spend an entire afternoon there with a nice amount of greenery to break up the blocky design. First impressions were good.
We ordered 2 recommended dishes: The cheeseburger and the Mussels. We also ordered a side plate of green beans with cranberries and almonds.
The cheeseburger at London Fields isn’t a freak of nature. It doesn’t have 6 slices of meat or require a jaw dislocation to consume. It’s a modest sized burger with everything required in a cheeseburger: soft bun, slightly too orange cheese, tomato ketchup, and a side of chips. It wasn’t breaking any boundaries, but it didn’t need to. If I wanted a burger creation bordering on insanity there are plenty of places in Brisbane that I could have visited. The chips, on the other hand, were inexcusably soggy; the first bump in the country road through London Fields.
After the cheeseburger warm-up I was ready for something to blow me away in the way a la Public. The Mussels made a valiant attempt with their punchy chilli sauce, the generous chunk of sourdough to soak it up, and the beautiful mussels. The dish was full of flavour and well expressed what London Fields is all about: Fancy pub food.
The green beans with cranberries and almonds makes for an excellent combination, particularly with the beautiful almond cream that London Fields uses in place of slivered almonds. Unfortunately the beans themselves were overcooked, perhaps taking the ‘pub-food’ idea a step too far.
The last meal was the pork sausage with brusell sprouts and English mustard. This one was presented beautifully. Look at that exciting shard of spinach on top! The flavours, however, were again very simple and one-dimensional. It was certainly an enjoyable meal, but it wasn’t exciting or particularly clever. Sausage with veggies and mustard is delicious, but it’s not why I go out to dinner.
My experience at London Fields got me thinking, who is the target market for London Fields and gastropubs in general? Certainly not me. If I were after a straightforward pub meal I wouldn’t bother putting on a collared shirt to go to London Fields, instead I’d probably go to an actual pub and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and the opportunity to yell at the sport on the television screen if the desire takes hold of me (it doesn’t often, but it’s nice to have the option there). On the flip-side if I’m in the mood for a restaurant experience there are plenty of restaurants that offer more excitement than London Fields.
London Fields is a stunning restaurant with a huge amount of potential. Right now, however, it’s hard to recommend London Fields above the myriad of excellent dining options in the south Brisbane region.