Black Axe Mangal

Islington, London

Former St John chef Lee Tiernan serves up edgy yet delicious food that takes much of its cues from Turkish grill houses


The volume is turned up to 11 at Lee Tiernan’s spirited north-London restaurant, and we’re not just talking about the heavy metal that thuds through the speakers.

Taking loose inspiration from Turkish grill houses (although there’s a mash up of other influences at work here), the chef revels in amped-up flavours that leave your senses reeling. Smoke, spice and meat are cornerstones of Tiernan’s cooking.

There are grilled hearts smeared with fermented black bean, flame-grilled dexter beef given a blast of sour heat from pickled chillis, and a glistening pile of oxtail and bone marrow laksa. It’s all gloriously messy fun.

The tiny restaurant’s dining room is as loud as the food with painted skateboards for decoration, garish flowery tablecloths, and elaborately patterned penis designs painted on the floor. Lovers of Kiss will be saddened to hear the faces of the glam rock group are no longer emblazoned on the hulking wood fired oven. They’ve been replaced with a graffiti-style tribute to cult 70s gang movie The Warriors, who now keep watch as the signature squid ink flatbreads are scorched and topped with smoked cods roe and a gooey egg yolk.

Tiernan previously worked at St John’s Bread & Wine for 10 years, before launching Black Axe Mangal as a pop up in the meat packing district of Copenhagen. He and his wife Kate set up the bricks and mortar restaurant in London in 2015 to almost instant critical acclaim. They’ve been bringing the noise ever since.

156 Canonbury Road, Highbury, London, N1 2UP


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