Marylebone is one of London’s unsung heroes. The fact that I place it as my favourite area to eat in London will not hugely surprise those that have experienced its many brilliant offerings. Patty&Bun, MEATliquor and Tommi’s provide much relief to any burger cravings I may experience, Zoilo still remains my all time favourite restaurant in the world (ever….ever!!!), The Reform Social and Grill is still responsible for one of the best Old Fashioneds I’ve ever had (their British menu also has very few rivals); and on the cooking side, La Fromagerie and The Ginger Pig are like theme parks to me. So when I’m summoned to Slabs London, a new neighbourhood-style burger joint, I was excited to see if I could add another spot to Marylebone’s ever-lengthening roster of great eateries.
Slabs London, like so many of Marylebone’s many unsung heroes, lies off Marylebone High Street in a initially unassuming side street – mostly populated by housewife hangouts (furniture stores, cafes and a million places for lamps and rugs) but the décor and setup fits in well to this mini-neighbourhood setting.
The venues itself is split up into three main areas – a bar, a casual dining area and a more formal dining area in the basement. Each area in itself could stand alone as a destination place for each of its functions, but merge to form a multi-faceted eatery. The simple but elegant design resembles a modern style diner. The bar area is comprised of bar stools, street-facing tables and of course the bar itself. The casual dining area consists of perimeter lined cushioned benches and a large central table for larger groups. Due to the setup, a few minor adjustments can transform any spot from intimate seating for two to an area for more substantial gatherings. Head downstairs for a dining area that is more akin to your usual square-wooden-table experience.
Though Slabs has only been open for five months, there was already a thoroughly diverse collection of diners. The patrons included office parties, birthday parties, mates catching up, dates and even families. Though the clientele largely fell into the category of twenty-somethings, there were older groups dotted around – I suppose this is a clear sign of places versatility and appeal. You are just as likely to be sat next to a group of suits as you are to a pair of beautiful giggling girls (my companion can certainly vouch for the latter). The atmosphere was lively and though the tables were close enough to create some serious food-ordering envy, it never acted to distract, and with the three faces of Slabs’ set up, your mood could easily be matched with the location of your seat.
As I’ve mentioned, Marylebone is a great place for burgers. So, why then to Slabs? If it’s a burger you’re after, surely Patty&Bun and MEATliquor is the answer. Well, though Slabs has centred on quite a saturated market, they have ventured down a barren side-street. Many new burger joints focus on a new style of bun or doing a song and dance over how expensive and well-sourced the patty is. At Slabs they have done this, but also added some continental touches to the over-played burger. The burger I speak of, in particular, is Slabs’ Spanish Burger. This is one to try for burger and Spanish food enthusiasts alike (and a particular highlight of Slabs). This little beauty is made up of a brioche bun, spiced chorizo sausage and prime patty, melted manchego cheese, Serrano ham and garlic aioli. A great take on your traditional bacon cheese burger. For those that can’t decide on a single burger – the slider selection is ideal. This includes the Spanish burger, a Wagyu burger (roasted shitake mushrooms, Asian ‘slaw and wasabi mayo) and the lobster burger (lobster tail, soft shell crab and baby leaves). Notable starters include fall off the bone tender chicken wings, and the bountiful calamari. The cocktail list is packed with interesting signature drinks and the staff are happy to make anything you want off-menu.
Slabs London was faced with a tricky task – going up against the two most famous burger joints in London but they have managed to create something great. Where your MEATliquor and Patty&Bun are more destination places (I’m sure there aren’t many people who go every week), Slabs is a place that can certainly act as a local. It ticks the neighbourhood eatery box well and this is evident everything from the décor to the friendliness and attentiveness of the staff. You can also make a reservation immunising you from the two-hour queues of which its local competitors are guilty.
19 New Cavendish Street
London W1G 9TZ