Review: Long Horn

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sukibigSuki Orange, Wansteadium’s food blogger, on Wanstead’s new American-style diner Long Horn.
I’ve long maintained that the missing link in Wanstead dining is a restaurant offering simple but good food suitable for casual dining and also – crucially – families.

The idea of Long Horn  – as a burger joint along the lines of GFK or even Byron – is a really good one. There’s nothing like it round here, and there are enough people in Wanstead who want to eat out but don’t want to get on the Tube. Perfect. What could go wrong.

Long Horn has been set up by an enthusiastic and ambitious young local businesswoman who has done an awful lot right – not least raising the level of anticipation – in a very stylish way. And the best decision of all is choosing what is possibly the best spot in the whole of Wanstead for a restaurant.

Going inside, you walk into a long, somewhat dark restaurant, with a pretty cool atmosphere. Exposed brickwork, high-backed banquettes on either side, a neon sign, and stripped wide floorbords. Anyone who used to visit it when it was Cinnamon may have trouble recognising it. The fitting-out of Long Horn has been done properly (with a possible exception of the tables which seemed to have been rather unsuccessfully distressed).

The menu describes itself as “fine dining” – a phrase which, just like “luxury”, is becoming meaningless through overuse. This is not fine dining, but it probably shouldn’t even seek to be. There’s only so much demand for fine dining in Wanstead.

Starters range from potato skins, wings, and chowder through to an inventive panco-coated okra. Main courses are burgers with American additions such as gumbo, jumbalaya and fried chicken; but it doesn’t stop there – there’s also ribs, steak, sausages, fish, and Mexican.

Fried chicken, on the menu as “chicken marinaded in a spicy brine, dried then coated with flour and deep fried, delivered a good round peppery heat. Calling it what it actually is – southern fried chicken – would be more accurate and would actually sell the dish better. As would telling customers that they are using free range chicken, which staff only mentioned when asked. If Long Horn has gone to the trouble of getting meat and fish from environmentally and animal friendly sources, they shouldn’t keep quiet about it.

The sweet potato fries were very good – and the burgers firm yet tender. But it does feel that the menu is overcomplicated for what is called for. There don’t need to be ten different mains. The okra is a nice touch but a bit over the top.

It takes a lot to get somewhere like this right, and the places that one might be tempted to compare it against have tested their operations and formulas through long, expensive, trial and error. It’s not perfect by any means but we really need somewhere like Long Horn in Wanstead, So I feel a duty to return, to support it while it works out exactly what it wants to offer, and to applaud them for what they have done well so far.

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35 thoughts on “Review: Long Horn”

  1. My partner and I had a very good meal here, a few days after it opened. The Rockefeller oysters were a gamble, as I had never had oysters before, but they were very good with the absinthe and spinach sauce really making them something special. The beef rib was excellent and the banoffee pie just right. Although there were some items on the menu that were unavailable, that was the only problem we had. It wasn’t expensive either, costing us about the same as we had paid in Otto the week before. Overall, I’d definitely recommend it and we intend to go again soon.

  2. I shall be visiting tomorrow. I have waited a long time for this to open, it is exactly the type of place I would open.

    However, ‘Fine Dining’… With Burger Joints you want mess! Eating Ribs/Chicken & Burgers with a knife and fork is a bit pointless.

    I will reserve judgement until I have visited a few times but agree with most of what is mentioned.
    Good luck to them, this is exactly the type of business I am interested in and I think I know already this will be my favourite place on the High Street (after the parcel collection point – still loving that! 10 times I used it last week).

    I did notice a lack of info on beers etc.. Do they stock American beers like Brooklyn?

    1. Hi there, we do stock some American beers! Brooklyn lager, Blue Moon as well as Anchor Steam and Anchor Liberty. On draught we have Budweiser, Guinness, Samuel Adams and Portobello VPA. Come and pay us a visit soon!

  3. It’s not very pleasant eating off a tray or a horribly scrapey piece of rough slate though… We developed plates for a good reason 😉
    Just out of interest, how come roast hasn’t got a proper review here?? They do good burgers and chicken and fries and grills so they fall into the same category as Longhorn but haven’t even been mentioned here. I suspect let’s call it a ‘cultural’ bias on the pages of Wansteadium. I hope this isn’t the case. The craft beer and pulled pork mindset is not the only valid local culture to be aspired to..
    R.x

  4. Probably a stupid question – anything interesting on the menu for veggies? (Yes some couples are in a mixed meat/veggie relationship and the veggie would like to eat out with their other half and have something decent to eat)

  5. @Rob – yes a good point about the fact that Roast has been totally ignored on here – just part of the growing cultural, social and class apartheid that this site is promoting.

    1. Roast was closed when I passed it yesterday evening – has it ceased trading?
      To accuse Wansteadium of promoting cultural, social and class apartheid is crass. Suggest that those making this point actually eat at Roast and post a review!

  6. I went for a late lunch on Sunday with my family. As I really hope this becomes a great, reliable and child friendly local perhaps it’s worth mentioning the positives first.

    Staff are lovely and make you feel very welcome. A young, bright smiling team falling over themselves to be of assistance. I do recall the old Cinnamon and was unfortunate enough to have dined there, once, never to return. A blot on the culinary landscape. The owners have completely transformed the restaurant and reduced the old Cinnamon to a now distance nightmare. They also welcome toddlers.

    I’m afraid that sums up ALL of the positives.

    Suggested opportunities for improvement:

    1. My wife ordered chicken and was delivered a red steaky meat. Suprisingly, she did not send it back! Get your orders right please.
    2. I ordered 2 poached eggs as part of my meal which were poached to death – no runny yolk for me : (
    3. The pans the food arrived in are just weird. I would have preferred a plate.
    4. I just don’t get the tables – they don’t run with the American diner theme. Checked formica or tiles would have worked better. Also, I am sure those hot pans are melting the tables……..
    5. It is way to sparsely decorated. Dump the cheap flags and run with a theme on the attractively striped walls – Large bottle tops, a picture of Elvis, a car sawn in half, some old black and whites of Hollywood legends – something, anything!
    6. It really does need some more lighting – way too dark for a family restaurant.
    7. Some crayons and colouring in books for kids please.
    8. A selection of Papers/Magazines to read while waiting for the food.

    Genuinely, wishing the owners the best of luck. I will try again with the family in tow.

  7. We had Sunday brunch there, and found it really good. Sure, there are some things that need sorting – but they’ve only been open a week, give them a chance! The main things – great food and charming staff – are in place, so it’s only going to get better. However, the one thing they do need to cater for (in all respects) rather better, is people with young families. There’s currently no kids’ menu – but apparently they’re in the process of sorting that. Other than that, personally I think it’s a good addition to the High Street, and I wish it well. We’ll definitely be going back.

    1. Thank you for the support and kind words. We are indeed only a week old and this is my first venture into the restaurant industry. I have a lot to learn but I’m getting there. A kids menu is top on my list of priorities. Will also have colouring books etc to keep our little customers occupied. Thanks for the kind words, means a lot!

  8. Had a look at the menu, burger seemed over priced (compared to Byron) and from Suki’s photo the bun looks cheap, not brioche. Will give it a go though.

    Not sure about the comments on cultural bias, I don’t get that feel on here. Bring back Spice62, why did it ever shut….

  9. Not been there yet which suggests I’ve not been grabbed by the horns about this new burger bar.

    I like my burgers to be occasional vices not gourmet experiences so will probably stick with the usual prime (beef) suspects.

  10. Jude… yes now Where in Wanstead can uou get a good vegetarian meal. We could benefit from a good vegetarian bar/restaurant.
    Am’hayer. Crayons and coloring books? Its not a creche or birthday party for
    under 8’s is it? Maybe youd like it to be called Moo Cows instead of longhorn
    Andrew; they put Spinache in the Absinthe? Isnt it devilishly green enough as it is?

    Ok must try Long horns now. will order red meat chicken on a pallete have a side order of Spinache and absynth (but hold the spinach) then demand spme crayons and paper to see if I can create some wormwood inspired artwork to replace the neo 60’s poster work.

  11. Had a great meal there last Thursday, can’t wait to check out the breakfast menu…..I’m sure there will be some teething problems which some people will DEFINATELY point out and as for the cultural bias, you’ll always find some anywhere in the world if you look hard enough, if not you can just make it up……

  12. My wife and I visited on Friday at 5pm as we were told they didn’t take bookings. However when the 2 of us arrived we were asked if we had booked and were told abruptly if that wasn’t the case we would not be accommodated – there were 3 separate tables of 4 free. When we stated we were unable to book we were just fobbed off.
    Prepared to give them another chance but they should at the very least be clear about their booking policy.

    1. Hi Jamie, I’m really sorry you were given confusing information. We only take bookings for groups of 8+ We never take bookings for any groups of less than 8. I can only put it down to teething problems. We are a lot more organised and settled now, so I really do hope you and your wife will pay us a visit soon.

  13. I have been for both Brunch and Dinner and have so far had no complaints, food is of a high quality and waiting staff are friendly and approachable. Would recommend the Huevos Panchos or the chicken fried steak (I assume the review above by am_hayer is referring to this dish which is actually a 4oz rib eye steak served in a batter similar to a southern fried chicken batter, hence the ‘red streaky meat’). I can see how the menu can be confusing, however unfortunately this is something that can only be corrected through trial and error.

    I would also recommend the BBQ wings for starter and the Beef Ribs for mains, finish it off with a long island ice tea (not recommended if you have work the next day!).

    Overall my friends and has a pleasant experience and I am sure we will be returning in the near future.

  14. I agree with Juan and Rob about the “cultural, social and class apartheid that this site is promoting”. Some people think they live in Mayfair and keep forgetting wanstead post code… I’ll try Roast tomorrow then.

  15. Went with the family for brunch on Sunday. Decor and vibe is cool but a little bit sparse, no biggie for me, I am all about the food and the service and both were very good.

    Smiling friendly staff, juicy pulled pork, fluffy pancakes, tasty shakes and breakfast piled high.

    I’d tweak the menu for a few more burger / combo choices and start the BBQ earlier so it’s available at lunchtime. The plates / pan thing is a bit gimmicky and makes things harder for the staff. Don’t overthink it. Prices were okay, a range of cheaper and more expensive stuff, would have to sample the BBQ to see if it is up to value.

    Good luck Longhorn, welcome to Wanstead. I’ll be back.

  16. Very much disagree with the idea that this site is guilty of ‘a cultural bias’. If this was the case, I would certainly not frequent it.

    Perhaps someone here could submit a restaurant review to Wansteadium after visiting Roast, it’s always good to read any fair local eaterie reviews.

  17. Went in with my partner and child last sunday. The waitress came over and took my full order, and my partner and childs drinks order, but didn’t ask them what they would like to eat! I had also previously asked her if they served tea, which she said she would check. 10 mins later I still hadn’t been informed. As Jude said previously, hardly anything if you;re a veggie. I asked if I could substitute the bacon for something else if I had an American breakfast. Had to ask twice. The waitress eventually told me I could have mushrooms. I’m afraid we can’t comment on the food, as we had to leave as we were pretty much being ignored. Ended up in good old cafe Brunch over the road. Half the price and twice the service!

    1. We do have vegetarian options Julia. Saying we have hardly anything is simply untrue and very very unfair. We are adding more vegetarian dishes very soon however. Thanks.

  18. Went last week with some friends and were nervous purely based on the fact that I really want to like/love this place. Menu was good and had items that I have only found in the states. I tried the fried chicken and waffles, it tasted pretty good (and I was assured chicken is free range?!) but it was over cooked. Other items my friends ordered had pretty good comments but not excellent….I have put that down to first week issues and I would like to see this place improve and I’m hoping to be a returning customer

  19. Tried twice now, but no bookings policy meant we were turned away. I would advise they make the most of the appeal of the new, as folk will get tired of this and not bother to return. It was the case when Sumo first opened. Not overly keen on a) the fake Americana – would prefer a cool groove aka Patty & Bun or b) if it turns into a creche complete with colouring books and Lego. We will persevere to visit, however.

    As for the alleged “cultural bias” of Wansteadium – what utter nonsense. I will not be trying “Roast” on the basis that if I opened a restaurant with a large “Atheist” sign on the front, I doubt they would be patronising it.

    1. Not sure how to respond to this?! We will of course be going to every effort to cater for our little customers, without it turning into a creche. Who said anything about lego? Strange.

      Please do come and visit us again, we are very busy hence the lack of time to deal with a booking system. We are limited on space and feel that by accepting bookings on small tables, others miss out while seeing available tables just sitting there empty. We will be reviewing this policy in due course however.

  20. I’m sure everybody knows we are not in Mayfair Kiko….have you tried Longhorn or were you just pointing out how “culturally bias” we all are in Wanstead? We’re only one step from away from the R word next…..I can feel it coming!!

  21. tbh I think it’s just a small degree of snobbery based on the ideals of some for the high st. A take-away shop that’s really popular and always busy?? Terrible. A locker to help those that aren’t in during the day – the horror.
    Long Horn looks good but it would need to soften before I would see it as family friendly. Roast is on my list next time I’m want a kebab – I’ll post an update when I do. Looking forward to the fish monger too.

    Fact is there’s lots of people that use the high st and there’s a variety of services and shops to cater to those needs. I don’t go to every shop, doesn’t mean I don’t want them there. Fact is, the shops that remain will be the successful ones and by definition be ones that are fulfilling the requirements of its customers.

  22. The restaurant had a good atmosphere and decor, but I was really disappointed with the lack of vegetarian dishes on the menu. There was only one vegetarian main dish which contained sweet potato and okra (an acquired taste I haven’t quite acquired yet!) I ended up having a side dish of macaroni cheese (which turned out to be penne in cheese sauce not browned on the top) which I had to request without the bacon and a side salad. I would recommend at least adding a veggie burger such as a Quorn burger to the menu so that there is at least one other main option for vegetarians plus adding some vegetarian dishes to the starters. I wouldn’t want to go back there until there are more options for vegetarians on the menu.

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