With restaurants, as with celebrities, sometimes reputation precedes you. Three Michelin-starred dining? Likely to be expensive but amazing. Local café packed with a breakfast crowd? Hearty, no-nonsense fry ups perfect for a hangover.
In a similar vein, and owing to some largely mixed reviews, I accepted an invitation to pop down to Ed’s Easy Diner, the high street American burger chain that has actually had 25 years in our fair London, unbeknownst to me. Thus I was looking forward to finding out once and for all whether I would be pleasantly surprised, or rather unimpressed, with old Eddie and his food.
…Turns out it was the latter.
Things didn’t even start well as upon our visit to the original ’80s Soho branch, my companion and I were seated and greeted, but then had to wait just under 15 minutes before actually ordering. Yes, they were rammed, but that is one long wait twiddling our thumbs.
Once ordering began, between us we chose the Smokey Joe’s burger (cheese, griddled onions and smoky BBQ sauce; £6.60) and the bacon ‘n’ cheese burger (£6.95), with fries (£2.95) and onion rings (£3.25) on the side. Oh oh, again the waiting began, with about 20 minutes for our burgers to arrive. Thus we’d now been sat for half an hour with nothing but a couple of bottled beers to feed upon.
When the food did finally arrive things were decidedly mediocre. The burgers were flaccid and salty in their taste, and the fries were not up to scratch. Sauces on the side did make an effort to boost the overall flavour, but the only real joy on the plate was the onion rings, which were actually pretty darn good.
Onto dessert (cue another wait): I tried the waffles (£4.95), served with vanilla ice cream and maple syrup, and my dining compadre chose the chocolate brownie (with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce; £4.35). When they did arrive, they were, well, OK. Although verging on too sweet, both the waffles and the brownie were in the right ballpark of texture you’d expect, and overall a more sweet-toothed diner would probably be satiated, if not overjoyed.
All in all, we spent one-and-a-half hours having two courses in a diner. This to me is the first sticking point, as that is just a ridiculous length of time for effectively ‘fast’ food. Second is the overall quality of what we were served. There are countless other establishments that offer better food, such as The Diner (also a chain), many, many gastropubs, and even, frankly, McDonald’s given the price.
But, at the end of the day, perhaps it is almost fruitless to review the food in Ed’s, because I imagine endless numbers of tourists will always fill the seats, never to return. For those in London, however, it serves little point.
Ed’s Easy Diner
12 Moor St/Old Compton Street
Tel: 020 7434 4439