Within the carcass of a former branch of Barclays bank, lies “The Banc”, a restaurant and shisha lounge that declares itself to be the result of two friends who shared a “single vision” – (a vision that I assume involves a blind spot for the letter “k”). Over the course of the last five years, this joint-venture establishment has attained near-universal popularity, evolving from a simple restaurant into a bustling social hub. For many young individuals, a visit to The Banc is a staple routine of the “weekend unwind”, and to find out why, I set out for a lazy Saturday lunch with The Goat Whisperer.
All the meat here is halal. Alcohol is served.
I first visited The Banc over a year ago with Jaws, and ordered a T-Bone steak with chips. The T-Bone was of a surprisingly good quality, and cooked to an excellent medium-rare. It was succulent and tender, full of moisture within, and carried a moderately deep flavour, resulting in a rather satisfying helping of meat. The same could not be said for the chips however, which were thin, brittle, and overall, exceedingly poor.
In the prelude to my second visit, Steak had repeatedly recommended that I try the chicken thigh pieces from The Banc’s shisha menu. (That is – the shisha food menu. I don’t think they put chicken thighs in their shisha pipes). I however, was adamant on ordering the dual beef and chicken “Tower combo” burger. Whilst glancing through the regular restaurant menu and deliberating on whether to follow Steak’s advice, The Goat Whisperer announced that he may try the chicken thigh steaks. Others may call it a coincidence, but I knew that at long last, my ability to subtly control the minds of others using the force had finally grown stronger. I proceeded to order the Tower combo burger with an extra topping of turkey bacon, and a mango colada, whilst The Goat Whisperer opted for a decision he believed he had made of his own accord.
The beef patty within the tower combo was surprisingly thick and of a fairly good quality, with a moist centre and a soft, but slightly chewy texture. Interestingly, the patty was infused with mustard seeds and significantly marinaded, resulting in a moderate depth of flavour. The chicken fillet meanwhile, was of a very high quality, and possessed a light, mildly spiced coating of marinade. Normally, I disapprove of chicken within a burger, for many of the same reasons my father disapproves of my existence – a) it doesn’t belong and b) beef patties are always far superior, because they decided to study medicine. (Or something to that effect). On this occasion however, the chicken fillet was incredibly soft and tender, (perhaps owing to its thin-cut), and successfully broke down my prejudices. The turkey bacon I had ordered to supplement my burger possessed a thin, soft, and stranded texture. With its crispy edges and full flavour, it was a pleasant addition to this multi-meat burger. Were it not for the low quality brioche buns – which were cardboard-like, slightly stale and almost shot down the burger as a whole, the Tower combo, along with the T-Bone steak, could have pushed the food score up to a 4/5.
The “Tower Combo” burger
The mango colada arrived in a rather puzzling shade of light green. In combination with the rather small umbrella abandoned on the side of the jar, one can only assume that the barman caught a small vegetarian person walking by in the rain outside, and subsequently blended them into the mocktail. A horrifying thought to say the least. The mango and coconut components of the mocktail were almost balanced – with the mango only just taking the upper hand – and both worked in harmony to deliver a refreshing, smooth sweetness to the tongue.
The Goat Whisperer’s chicken thigh steaks carried a strong flavour of the herbs and spices it was covered in, and was exceptionally moist and succulent. The accompanying french beans and cherry tomatoes were a pleasant compliment, whilst the rice was slightly bland, dry, and lacked presence.
Chicken thigh steaks
Value For Money: 3/5
The T-Bone steak and hand-cut chips I ordered many moons ago cost £22. The Tower Combo burger cost £13.50, and the extra turkey bacon cost an additional £1.50, bringing the total price of the burger to £15, whilst the mango colada cost £5. The Goat Whisperer’s chicken thigh steaks cost £11, and he also ordered two bottles of coke, bringing the total bill to around £37, (£20 of which, was my expenditure).
Generally, starters range from £3-£5, burgers range from £8-£13, and steaks from £19-£22. Other main courses sit in the £8-£15 range, sides cost between £3-£7, desserts range from £4-£6, and drinks cost around £5. The quality of the food at Banc varies considerably, with the chicken seemingly leading the way as it crosses the road of success, the beef only a step behind, and the side dishes and complementary items being flattened by traffic before they reach the other side. Whilst certain groups of items – such as the selection of chicken and beef steaks – are very reasonably-priced and good-value, others – such as the burgers and mocktails, are a little overpriced. Whether you feel out of pocket at the end, or not, very much depends on what you order, but either way, you’re likely to leave The Banc feeling full and satisfied.
As we walked towards the entrance of the restaurant, a waiter walked out in his jacket (and the rest of his clothes of course), presumably on his way to a lunch break. Upon seeing us approach the restaurant, he promptly smiled and moonwalked back through the door, and handed us over to a colleague. From the moment we were welcomed in, staff members were polite and courteous. Credit is certainly due to our waitress, who was patient enough to wait ten minutes and make two additional trips to our table, whilst the sordid Goat Whisperer stared at the list of mocktails and milkshakes – and then decided upon a bottle of coke. I’m fairly certain she wanted to hit him with the menu by this point, but she rather politely refrained.
The Banc is comprised of a two-tier restaurant with an adjoining shisha lounge – perfect for those who wish to clog up their arteries in one area, before moving on to incinerate their lungs in the next. The shisha lounge is very much separate to the restaurant, ensuring that those who only wish to do the former can eat in peace. The restaurant is fairly large and spacious, and hosts an attractive modern decor. Red and black tables, comfortable leather booths and furry leather chairs cover most of the tiled floor space, whilst overhead lamps and spotlights provide well-spaced pockets of lighting throughout the dining area. Complete with a number of custom murals, the decor is, overall, very well put-together.
The restaurant is located on West Green road, and is less than a ten minute bus-ride away from either Turnpike Lane or Seven Sisters station. Parking is very easy to find in nearby residential roads – though be sure to check that your wheels are firmly bolted on to your car before you leave it unattended.
Despite visiting The Banc at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon – (hardly what you would call “prime time”) – I was rather surprised to find that there wasn’t quite as much tumbleweed as I was expecting. The chic interior and spacious surroundings help to create an atmosphere that is both lively and laid-back, and inadvertently results in a very comfortable social environment – even when the restaurant is half empty.
In a city where halal steaks and burgers can be found in almost every corner of the map, The Banc does not particularly stand out from the crowd when it comes to the business of food alone. That is not to say that their food is average or mediocre – rather, it is to say that, whilst the food is satisfying and at least a little bit interesting, it is clear that The Banc’s popularity arises more so from its auxiliary aspects. The two friends behind the “Banc trademark” have mastered the ability to engineer a well-constructed dining space and a warm, hospitable environment, and in doing so, have created a little place in Tottenham where other friends can foster their own friendships. Perhaps, rather more remarkably, they have managed to make me write the words “hospitable” and “Tottenham” in the same sentence – a feat I would never have thought possible.
Address: 261-263 W Green Rd, London N15 3BH
Telephone: 0208 888 8898