This was my 2nd visit to Mishkins. Way back in November, when Mishkins first opened, I was lucky enough to snag a booking on their opening day at 50% off the food for the soft opening. I never posted an entry due to very dim lighting at our table. The food I had that night was different to anything I was familiar to. Time went on, and Mishkins received positive review after positive review, making it near impossible to get a booking. Well, not really – I just always called on a Friday afternoon which was never going to return results. The bar is reserved for walk ins, but as Covent Garden is not an area I frequent that often, the idea of walking down there only to be told there would be long wait was too much to bear. One Saturday night, in the vicinity of Mishkins, we decided to give them a call to see what the situation was. Plenty of seats of the bar! And that is how I finally got my blog post on Mishkins!
The most embarrassing thing I remember about my first visit was upon leaving. Russell Norman was present as he always is on the first few days of trade for a new restaurant; farewelling customers and asking for their thoughts as they leave. As we went to leave, Russell went to speak to me, at the exact moment as I missed the step down to the door. I didn’t fall, but I did stumble. Russell caught me and I will forever be embarrassed. Duncan laughed his head off once we got out the door, knowing how much I admire Mr Norman. I wasn’t even drunk! Just clumsy. Well on this visit I happily noted a sign saying ‘please watch your step’. Ha! So it wasn’t just me. Good. Somewhere out there, is another person who hopefully had a bigger fall than I did; embarrassed themselves more than I did and it is that anonymous person that Russell Norman remembers falling, not me!
Gin is not my spirit of choice. The cocktail menu is full of gin options. I order the Cucumber Martini. Very strong, but the cucumber flavour is lovely and fresh. The presentation with the cucumber scrapings curled up inside the glass is all kinds of pretty.
Ever since the first visit to Mishkins, Duncan kept asking when we could go back to have the duck hash. I didn’t have on this 2nd visit, but from memory it was great – flakes of soft duck meat, potatoes, with a soft fried egg on top. Served with a liquor sauce for pouring over the top; this was warm and rich. I remember wanting a piece of bread to mop up the juices. It must have been good the second time around, because no one offered me a bite.
I vaguely also remember ordering 3 lamb and pistachio meatballs but have no photo for proof. Anywhoo, they were soft, not dry at all and were studded with large pieces of pistachios. Due to my burger love, I felt it necessary to order the steamed beef patty with onions and swiss cheese. Somehow ‘steamed patty’ doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as hamburger does, but it was just as tasty. Pickles on the side, the meat was still visibly pink inside. The steaming meant the patty was juicy and combined with the melty swiss was great. Probably not the best or memorable dishes at Mishkins, but still solid.
Sides orders of market greens and a half-half order of fries and onion rings. The market greens did their job – vitamins and all that. It was pleasant change though to have greens at a restaurant that for once weren’t swimming in butter – simply steamed and it made a marked change. The fries and onion rings had definitely improved from the first visit. I remember the onion rings and fries were a little limp on the first night. This hiccup has definitely been resolved and both were crunchy and fresh, no greasy after taste at all.
For dessert, a shared serve of a chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Comforting. The kind of dessert you want in front of the TV in Winter while wearing ugg boots wrapped in a blanket.
Having been twice now and allowing for time to pass since the opening a few tweaks had been made. Not necessarily better or worse, just the difference in time for a restaurant to find its feet. Staff have settled into the trademark cool guaranteed to be found in all of Russell Norman’s restaurants, and they run a tight ship. Mishkins is still the solid restaurant it was on opening – Mr Norman is a pro at what he does afterall. It’s not my favourite in his empire – that spot belongs to Spuntino, but Mishkins is a kind of grown up cool in a little corner of Covent Garden.