Original recording from 19th July, 2015: “Good evening and welcome to the Methods Unsound Six O’Clock News, I’m Toni Ratcliff. The hipster culinary world was shocked this morning to hear that last night Dinerama, a London street food pop-up arena based in Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, had been forced to close after suffering a serious fire that destroyed a large part of the venue. Thankfully nobody was hurt but the whole venue will remain closed for several weeks while the fire damage is repaired. Dinerama management suggest that they will not be able to open again for several weeks. Oh and someone at the The London Fire Brigade got in trouble for posting a dickish tweet making casual fun of hipsters. Knobs. Anyway, here is David O’Hanarahanarhan at the scene……”
Now it’s not very often that I get to don my newscaster’s outfit (just think Moira Stewart from the 80s but with more shoulder pads and a bigger afro) but that really did happen – the place actually burnt down, no shit! However, I am pleased to say that after hauling some serious building ass all over the venue, Dinerama has risen again like a phoenix from the BBQ smokey flames and reopened on Thursday 13th August.
Luckily for you, Methods Unsound managed to get down to Dinerama to sample some of the goodies on offer just two days before it was damaged by fire. (This seems terribly suspicious – Editor) To celebrate the re-opening of the arena here is a run down of what you can expect to find if you pop along.
BBQ Lab – Miso wings (5 wings for £5)
Always a sucker for some chicken wings, our first stop was BBQ Lab. Complete with staff all wearing white lab technician coats to do their work and then discreetly running a blowtorch over a rack of ribs, we thought we would ease in with five of their Miso buffalo wings at a very reasonable £5. And do you know what? They were really fucking good.
Delicious soft buffalo wings smothered with balsamic and a miso butter. I couldn’t work the taste out for a little while and then I realised that they were the ultimate version of umami – meaty, sour and sweet together. Really good. They also had a generous sprinkling of nuts and spring onions on the top which I felt tied the whole thing together. I kinda want to try everything on the menu now, especially the blow torch ribs, which can only be a good sign. I can see why they are the WingFest Champions, 2015.
Duck N Roll – Duck burger (£8)
I’m sorry to say that I was pretty disappointed with this one. For a burger that features two of the tastiest things in the world: duck and… burgers, it was sadly a bit tasteless. The duck felt a bit lost and I could only really taste the iceberg lettuce, that reminded me of a Big Mac and then some indistinctly flavoured sauce. It was nice but lacked the meaty depth of flavour I was hoping for considering the pedigree of its ingredients. It was nicely salty in places but that was about it.
Smokestak – Thick Cut Pork Rib (£8)
Okay. Stop everything you are doing right now. This is what you should all be eating! These were deeeeelicious! The queue at Smokestak is always the longest by far. We had to wait in line for at least 20 minutes for these, and once we had reached the front of the queue and paid we then had to do some more waiting around for another five minutes or so before our turn came and we could get our hands on these ribby beauties. However, the wait was totally worth it. We were given three very thick cut, hot juicy ribs (and they were really hot so find a space to eat them quick) that would make any cowboy proud. The meat itself was super soft and just fell away from the bone, there was some kind of sticky glaze business going on which was very nice, and the whole thing was wrapped in a delicious smokey blanket.
Pleasingly, the ribs also had a lot of meat on them, I got three fat ribs and there were very few bony bits in them at all actually – we decided there was about an 8:1 meat to bone ratio. Does that make sense? Whatever. It was a good amount of meat either way. And when I think about it, they were pretty much everything that you want to get when you order ribs: they were big, they were thick, they were meaty, soft, juicy and delicious. If you go to Dinerama and you only eat at Smokestak it will not have been a waste of time.
Smokestak – Usda brisket bun (£8)
On the night that we went to Dinerama, Smokestak had already sold out of the beef ribs so we plumped for this brisket bun with pickled chillis instead. We were not disappointed. The bun itself looked and felt like it might have been an English muffin or even a barm cake? I wasn’t entirely sure, plus it was getting a bit dark at this point. The super soft squishy bun had been toasted to the point of burning, but that didn’t impair the flavour at all.
The brisket was as soft as butter and just melted in your mouth, it was quite fatty in places but hey, I like that in a meat product. The chillis added a nice warmth that wasn’t overpowering because they had been pickled. The whole thing was generally hot, juicy and really delicious, and left you with a very comfortable warmth in your mouth… and that’s all we really want at the end of the day, right?
I can see why Smokestak are always the most popular stand at these places because their ribs are the tastiest, yummiest thing there by FAR. I just wish it didn’t take so long to get hold of the ribs and be able to put them in your face. But then, I imagine everybody would eat ten ribs each and they would sell out in half an hour. Shame.
Chuck Burger – Bacon Cheeseburger (£7) and fries (£3)
I was torn about this burger. The first bite was a good meaty, burger flavour, and then a fucking heap of water or blood, or both, poured out onto my little paper plate and I feel that shouldn’t necessarily happen. There are dirty burgers and then there are burgers where blood runs down your arm – I think I don’t want to have the latter.
Also we didn’t opt for the chilli burger but I swear ours had some kind of chilli sauce on it, so either there was a mix up or the Chuck Sauce is just quite hot. The bacon was not as cripsy as I would have liked it and felt a bit soggy, the gherkins were quite unpleasant and overall there was an overriding saltiness that we couldn’t place where it was coming from. The fries were SO salty they are almost unbearable to eat, I don’t really know how they did that? And then you are just offered some regular Heinz ketchup or some French’s mustard and I generally felt like they could have tried harder. Overall I was just confused more than upset or annoyed on this one.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything on offer at Dinerama: we managed to visit the above and stuff our faces in just one evening. But there are loads of vendors we didn’t even have the time (or stomach capacity) for, such as B.O.B’s Lobster, Yum Bun, Breddos Tacos, Fundi Pizza and You Doughnut. Plus there are tons of bars where you can buy craft beer or tequila slushies to your heart’s content. I reckon you could visit Dinerama three or four times and eat something different every time.
Quick Dinerama tips:
1. If you go on Friday night the place gets BUSY. Unless you get there super early it is mostly impossible to sit down. Be prepared to eat your food squeezed onto a corner of any wall/barrell/bin/toilet that you can get near. It’s a dog eat dog world out there.
2. You probably don’t want to go on a first date here. Because we are dealing with delicious street food you are liable to spend most of the evening with your face, hands and shirt covered in sauce or grease. Or both.
3. Being so close to the City, Dinerama does tend to have a high percentage of… uh… wankers. You have been warned.
4. If it’s a little busy, why not head to its sister site in Canada Water. In fact here’s our handy guide to the best street foods to eat at Street Feast Hawker House.
5. Take cash. A lot of it. You will need it for buying all of those delicious ribs.
Discover the capital’s best foodie events in our Things to do in London section, including the South London Wine School chocolate night or grabbing a sandwich from the Cheese Truck in Maltby Street Market.