Tottenham Hale is not usually associated with top end restaurants, but that’s what chef Adebola Adeshina has managed to create at The Lock. As a South-of-the-river kind of girl, it takes a half decent reason for me to hop onto one end of the Victoria line and jump off at the other end. Even the travelling wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the Victoria line hadn’t closed on the way back, turning my three-legged journey into a five-legged one. So you may not visit this restaurant every week if it’s not in your immediate comfort zone, but it’s certainly worth making the effort for days when you feel like exploring.
Inside, the restaurant is decked out with dark wooden tables and plenty of art hanging on the walls. When we arrived there were a few tables taken with friends catching up and families taking advantage of the early slot. Although the waiter mentioned that plenty of lunchtime business is made up of working lunches, the evening crowd seemed to be locals that knew the place well and were coming back for more.
We struggled with the menu as most dishes were tempting us – the fish dishes in particular. Fillet of sea bream, pan-fried pollack and roast monkfish tail all looked mouth-watering and after far too much chatting and indecision we decided to go for the latter two. To start, we opted for the corn soup and the breast of lamb served on polenta. Our waiter who thankfully had a sense of humour about our delay in ordering, whisked off the order to the kitchen and promptly came back with our chosen bottle of Gavi for the meal.
The wine was good, and the chatting continued until that is, the starters arrived. We took a mouthful each of the luxuriously buttery corn coup and the perfectly cooked lamb and silence descended. Both starters were seriously good. The soup, which came served in a cup, was light and buttery in colour and richly buttery on the tongue. The breast of lamb meanwhile, arrived on a chopping board of its own, resting on a slice of polenta and tasted just wonderful with a beautifully crispy crackling finish. We had already started to forget about the trek to Tottenham Hale and relaxed into our seats, waiting expectantly for round two.
Our pollack and monkfish were as we’d hoped – brilliantly cooked and falling off the fork. The pollack arrived on top of a tower of sautéed potato gnocchi, artichokes hearts and sun dried tomatoes and was a great tasting balanced dish. The monkfish was served up with a pepper sauce and fat, wholesome Borlotti beans. It was a warming choice with the meatiness of the monkfish and the shards of fennel cutting through the earthiness of the beans. We were heading towards full at this point, so we decided to sit back and fill any gaps with the rest of our Gavi. The waiters were impressively attentive and made regular checks on each table, chatting away to a good few locals.
Adebola Adeshina’s approach to cooking is big on quality and with that goes seasonality. Keen to move onto the next sprouting vegetable of the month, Adeshina is quick off the mark when he introduces timely vegetable produce and sources most of it from Walthamstow market. There’s a sense of responsibility about the menu at The Lock, even down to the Harrogate Spa bottled water that they serve up.
So from responsibility onto indulgence, we rounded things off with the dessert list. The blueberry Clafoutis and the chocolate tart were our choosing, and as we waited for our puddings to arrive, we continued our girl talk. A palette-cleansing scoop of banana & passion fruit sorbet was set down in front of us, covered with beetroot syrup, which woke our taste buds up from their slumber between courses. And then our puddings arrived. The chocolate tart was meltingly good and managed to woo my friend into devouring the lot in record speed. The Clafoutis meanwhile was a little taste of baked heaven. If you’ve ever tried a Czech berry sponge known as ‘koláč’, Clafoutis is a lighter version of this and lusciously good. There’s no other way to describe this light but indulgent tasting dessert, which arrived in its own copper pan and tasted gorgeous. Silence fell for the second time that night, and all talk of life, love and how unreliable London Transport can be, ceased while we scraped our bowls clean.
If you’re South of the river when it comes to London’s layout, then there’s no point lying to you – Tottenham Hale is a bit of a trek when you compare it to walking round to your local restaurant. But, and it’s a big but – the journey is well worth making when you settle in for the evening at a place like The Lock, with a menu so good that it manages to lure die-hard Southern types across the water on a regular basis.
The Lock: Heron House, Ferry Lane, Hale Wharf, Tottenham Hale, London, N17 7NF.
Reviewer: Helenka Bednar