If your friends are anything like mine, co-ordinating absolutely anything with them is probably about at difficult as getting a goat and an elephant to mate. Perhaps even more so, if, like my friends, yours are about as organised as the site of a nuclear explosion. Indeed, if you told me that I had to work with any one of my friends to achieve a common goal, I would probably ask for a revolver, because eventually, either their skull or my own would end up meeting a bullet.
However, for Jan and Fabio – lifelong friends and co-owners of “The Banc”, such clashes in character seem non-existent. Housed within the carcass of a former branch of Barclays Bank, their restaurant and shisha lounge declares itself to be the result of their “mutual vision” – (a vision that likely involves a blind spot for the letter “k”). Since opening their doors in 2011, this joint-venture establishment has attained near-universal popularity, and evolved from a simple restaurant to a bustling social hub. For many young individuals, a visit to The Banc is now a staple routine of the “weekend unwind”, and to find out why, Steak and I headed over to take our place at a bloggers’ meet-up.
Having visited The Banc in the past, Steak and I were quick to notice that their menu had undergone a recent facelift – (something that I could probably do with myself). To begin, Adwaiz – (our hosts for the evening), proceeded to order a selection of starters, which included sirloin skewers, grilled prawns, and chicken wings.
First up were the chicken wings, which were tender, well-cooked, and delivered a surprisingly sharp kick, owing principally to a coating of BBQ, honey, and pepper sauce.
Chicken wings (£6.50)
Though far more subtle with their delivery, the grilled prawns delivered an equal amount of satisfaction, with a simple dressing of garlic and lemon juice.
Grilled Prawns (£6.50)
However, the sirloin skewers – though promising in name, were somewhat dry and uninspiring, and the accompanying pepper sauce failed to elevate them any further.
Sirloin skewers (£6.50)
For mains, I opted for a 250 gram dose of fillet steak, served with a fried egg, herbed butter, french beans and cherry tomatoes. Cooked to a near perfect medium-rare, this succulent fillet oozed with inherent juices, and retained, for the most part, a reasonable depth of flavour. Texturally however, the fillet could have done with a broad, firm crust, which was sadly overlooked for a neat set of grill marks – (which does well to make a steak look pretty, but does little else to enhance the flavour or texture).
250g Fillet steak (£29)
Steak meanwhile, decided to live life on the edge of adventure, and opted for the one dish that she has ordered on almost every single visit she has ever paid to The Banc – the chicken thigh “steaks”. In fairness, these tender bites of chicken have been consistently delightful, and this occasion was no different. The soft chicken melted away in the mouth, and released a sharp, savoury touch that pleased the palate.
Chicken thighs (£12)
Lest we forget, it’s also worth mentioning the Tower combo burger we tried the last time we visited The Banc. The beef patty within the tower combo was surprisingly thick, with a soft, but slightly chewy texture. Interestingly, the patty was infused with mustard seeds, which added a subtle touch of heat and aroma. The chicken fillet meanwhile, was coated in a light, mildly-spiced marinade, and was almost as soft and tender as our favoured chicken thighs. Sadly however, the brioche buns were of a rather poor quality, with a cardboard-like texture that could almost have shot down the burger as a whole.
The “Tower Combo” burger (£14)
Strangely, things took a turn when it came to dessert – a segment of a meal that is usually very difficult to get wrong. The apple crostata, passion fruit cheesecake, and chocolate mousse cake were all lacking in their respective textures, with a dull, dry heaviness that simply should not have been there. Their respective flavours also seemed to be rather muted, and as the resident dentist on the table, it was pretty ironic for me to be the one to declare that they “needed to be sweeter”.
Chocolate Mousse cake (£6)
Apple Crostata (£6)
Passionfruit cheesecake (£6)
Whilst the sticky toffee pudding certainly was sweeter, it too suffered from a suboptimal texture, owing to a dry and desiccated sponge. Sadly, the chocolate brownie fared no better, with a dry, stodgy texture that detracted from any chocolatey goodness it had to offer. Needless to say, if you do choose to visit The Banc, we’d advise that you seek your dessert elsewhere.
Chocolate brownie (£6)
Value For Money: 3/5
Across the menu, starters range from £5 to £8, burgers range from £10 to £14, and steaks from £23 to £29. Other main courses sit in the range of £12 to £16, whilst sides cost between £3 to £4, and desserts come in at £6 each. From our perspective, the quality of the food at The Banc varies considerably, with the steaks and chicken dishes seemingly leading the way as they cross the road of success, whilst the burgers trail a few steps behind, and the starters and desserts lie dead and flattened by traffic before they ever reach the other side. In this respect, whether you feel out of pocket or not very much depends on what you order, but given the highly variable standards in quality, we do think that a meal at The Banc could end up being a little costly for the calibre of food that you receive.
Fortunately, consistency does seem to exist with the calibre of the service, which is both efficient and effective, owing principally to the courteous and attentive team.
Upon entering, you will notice that 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 smokeless peace. The large and spacious interior hosts a relatively modern decor, composed of red and black tables, comfortable leather booths and chairs, and well-spaced spotlights and lamps. 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.
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 overly mediocre or poor – (although, their desserts certainly do need a lot of work). Rather, it is to say that, whilst the bulk of the menu is relatively satisfying, it is clear that The Banc’s popularity arises more so from its auxiliary aspects. The two friends behind “The Banc” 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 that I would never have thought possible.
Halal status: All the meat severed here is halal. Alcohol is served on the premises.
Address: 261-263 W Green Rd, London N15 3BH
Telephone: 0208 888 8898
Originally Published: 16/02/16
Disclaimer: Our most recent visit to The Banc was an overt invitation.