“You’ve been green balled”. My unfortunate new phrase for the summer. Born at Heist Bank, a new restaurant in the developing area around the wonderfully named Paddington Basin; to be green balled is to work your way right up to the cusp of absolute victory, only for it to be snatched away thanks to your own incompetence. Yes, it’s a pool thing.
It all started with an up-slap meal in the bowels of the vast Heist Bank. Six thousand square feet spread over two floors, Heist Bank comes from the same minds as those behind Coin Laundry in Exmouth Market on the edge of Clerkenwell. The man at the top is quite the art collector, I was told by the manager as he led my companion Penny and I to our table, with all manner of mad modern pieces strewn about the restaurant. Think Battersea Power Station chic with a bit of Tate Modern thrown in.
Heist Bank brands itself a pizza and beer restaurant, with all sorts of ever changing craft beers available on tap and their own house lager. Their pizzas, cooked in a wood fired oven, range from the classic to the splendidly oddball.
“A Playground for Grown-ups”, they call it. Who doesn’t love a good play?
First off the bat was a shot at the small plates. The list was exotic and tapas-esque, with a real touch of the Middle Eastern. Taramasalata with lavosh (flatbread), shaved fennel and pickled kohlrabi (sister root vegetable of the cabbage), for example, or fresh watermelon with toasted seeds. I went for a portion of their olive and cheese curd doughnuts (£4.50), while Penny chose the devilled chicken livers on toast.
Devilled chicken livers, ostensibly a British dish from around the 18th century, are rich, creamy and something of an acquired taste. I admitted to never having tried them as our waitress brought them over to the table, but that I was a big fan of calves liver in my favourite Italian restaurant. These did not disappoint.
The devilling mixture usually consists of Worcestershire sauce, mustard, butter, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper, with these added to the sautéed livers in the pan, giving the offal a kick. While our livers didn’t so much kick, rather stroke, they were perfectly cooked and soft under tooth.
My doughnuts, meanwhile, were a fantastic creation. Again soft, these were overflowing with flavours from the curd and olives. All washed down by a bottle or two of IPA. Penny stole plenty.
Heist Bank do a number of large plates, including rainbow trout with a raw veg and herb salad (£15), hanger steak and chips (£16) and pork loin chop with kale polenta (£14.50) – but for us, it was pizza time.
With nine different pizzas to sift through, it was quite an ask to narrow the list down to two, with the cauliflower cheese (£10); aubergine, nettle pesto, Rosary goat’s cheese and dried tomato (£9); and smoked sausage, hispi cabbage, chilli and smoked mozzarella pizzas all very much deserving of a deciding finger point and smile.
In the end, I went for the lamb pizza with preserved lemon, Brockley feta and wild rocket (£10). Decidedly Turkish, the mix of lamb and feta has to be among my favourite flavour combinations. There’s little more savoury in the traditional sense – so this pizza was ace. Rocket on a pizza is a thing of beauty, and the preserved lemon did plenty to add a little something extra over the richness of the meat and cheese.
Penny, hoops and all, attacked the three mushroom and tarragon pizza with burnt butter white sauce (£10). Rich and creamy, this pizza was well imagined, one for those who want a little something different, away from the usual tomato base. I claimed the win with my pizza choice, so happy was I with Turkey on bread, but her’s was ravenously devoured by us both.
Dessert followed a chat outside with the last of our bottle of the Gable view Cabernet Sauvignon (£19), with the two of us thinking how very reasonable the price for our three course meal was.
That dessert was a mental banana boat to share (£8).
We thought a banana boat would be a couple of bananas, ice cream, perhaps some whipped cream and chocolate sauce. All these ingredients were present in ours when it arrived, as were all manner of sweets, nuts, cereal and candied cherries. Without all these additions, it would have been perfect. With them, it became a little too much ‘fun’.
Still, Heist Bank brought it big and we both had a splendid evening. Penny in particular, considering my abhorrent form on the pool table.
Heist Bank has a separate, hirable games room downstairs for a maximum of 45, which includes karaoke and pour-your-own beer kegs. A Foosball table stands proudly among the sofas and chairs, with the pool table found on the first floor opposite the dining area.
Firing on all cylinders at first, I swept up, leaving only the green and black while Penny found her range. But find it she did, with an ever growing smile, potting and potting with me watching the devilish green ball spin round and round the table with increasing petulance. I’d hit a wall, with every shot I took horribly misjudged.
Grinning like a crocodile on a bank holiday Monday, Penny finally smashed in the black as I moaned, “I’ve been green balled.”
I hope they get a ping pong table in soon.
Address: 5 N Wharf Rd, London W21LA
Phone: 020 7723 8080