STAX Diner is the newest creation from Bea Vo, owner of Bea's of Bloomsbury which is famous for it's afternoon tea. However, as the name suggests this is a bit of a jump from Bea's dainty cakes and sandwiches.
Let's face it American style diner food is not a new trend in London - there have been a lot of diners cropping up, focusing on doing a certain diner favourite well (I'm thinking of the successful niche restaurants here i.e., Bubbledogs etc). However, STAX Diner in Kingly Court off Carnaby Street serves up literally all of the good old All American Classics. They're not serving just one American favourite several ways, they're serving many. Think fried chicken and waffles, shrimp po boys and burgers a-plenty. And if we had to give a name to it's American style you'd have to call it flipped or fried as almost everything on the menu (drinks and deserts excluded) is.
We snuck in on the rainy Saturday of the Gay Pride Parade at lunch time and were surprised to be seated at once with how many people were milling about (the rain definitely didn't deter Gay Pride). In addition, STAX Diner only opened at the end of June and it's got a small number of seats so I was expecting us to wait at least half an hour (something quite typical with London restaurants and that I conveniently forgot to mention to Dan when I said we should go!).
The place has a semi open kitchen next to the bar and seats in the windows, which open out onto Kingsly Court. The decor is laissez-faire chic, with black metal tables, scuffed yellow stools, an array of coffee tin light fittings and a drum kit come chandelier. The walls are covered in a wallpaper of old band tour posters everywhere except the blackboard wall at the entrance which displays the entire menu, hard shakes and all. And if you can't see the menu clearly from the back why not have a fan menu, perhaps designed so you can better waft the smells from the kitchen to your face.
Having been running around all day, we were in serious need of hydration so we ordered their freshly squeezed lemonade (making mine a pink one of course), which was very refreshing.
We had visited the Wild Food Market in Brook Green just before, so we decided to not overdo it and ordered four sides between us; apple and poppyseed coleslaw, popcorn shrimp, fried pickles and the 'must have' onion blossom. It has not escaped my notice that three of these were deep fried - I won't lie to you, this isn't a healthy post.
The apple and poppyseed coleslaw with it's different textures was really interesting and had a good tang to it.
I loved the popcorn shrimp and the accompanying Spicy Comeback Sauce! It was spicy cajun style and the shrimp were juicy with a crispy coating. I realised I'd eaten almost all of them at the last one, and I felt really bad for Dan. But I still ate the last shrimp..
Dan's favourite were the deep fried pickles, which says a lot because he's normally a fickle pickle pleaser. These were more like deep fried pickle chips they were so thick and the accompanying sauce also had pickles in, with this in mind it's a wonder he liked it, but they were delicious.
I was so excited by the 'must have' blossom onion and when it arrived it looked amazing. Like the blossom from my dreams (this post by Emma over on A Beautiful Mess), when it showed up on the table it was golden brown, covered in spices and smelt amazing but 'must have' it was not. I'm sorry to say the onion was raw, sharp and really greasy. Maybe this is how it's supposed to be, but for me my dream must have onion was a must not.
It makes me sad just looking at this picture.
Moving on, overall the food and service were good, and I will be going again if only to grab the hard shake (alcohol meets ice cream soda) I missed out on and some more popcorn shrimp. And maybe some waffles? Or a burger. Or a duffin sundae!