The Big Eat, Croydon

Cheese. Pasta. Carbs. “Unhealthy food”. Give it to me. I love mac n cheese and burgers and therefore it seemed like a must to visit The Big Eat in Croydon as it claims to be an American Bar and Grill.

It is pretty noticeable when you are going under Croydon Flyover as it is plastered with American flags and inside it is full of a wide range of random things they think scream “American” without having actually attempted to collect it properly and make it into a consistent theme.

The choice of decor was one thing and something that I was happy to attempt to overlook. The booth itself was comfortable once I had moved away from my original seat to escape the boiling hot air that was coming through the ceiling and making me think I was going to either throw up, pass out or both.

But there was one thing I was not okay with and that I ended up feeling uncomfortable with throughout the entire meal; the bar/serving staff outfits for the women were screaming “bar wench” and like they were being made to wear a uniform for the sole purpose of entertainment for the owner and/or to bring in “lads”. Not all of the staff members looked overly comfortable in the outfits and I spotted several women around the restaurant feeling uncomfortable about their outfits too. It was embarrassing at how clearly the person setting up the restaurant has done limited research into the audience in Croydon but also the scene in which it is trying to replicate.

Croydon restaurant The Big Eat

The Big Eat table decoration

Once I finished insisting on playing a round of musical chairs to get as far away from the hot air as I could we came to a conclusion on what to order. We could have figured out what to order a little sooner but we ended up looking for some sign of copyright or nod to the fact they were allowed to use some of the images included on the menu (we had little success).

It was always going to be a very specific range of items for me and when I sat down I could not help but zone in on the mac n cheese items. From mac n cheese my eye trailed off to lobster and I found a dreamy combination of lobster mac n cheese with a side of fries and salads. It sounded like a real feast.

Croydon restaurants menu with a picture of Elvis

Strawberry and alcoholic shake

When the food arrived, at a fairly average pace considering the restaurant had about 10 tables filled with people on different stages of their meals, the portion size was certainly impressive and the amount of lobster and oozy cheese was very clear. It looked like it was going to be a feast but I was apprehensive that the cheese could have just been melted on top and the second layer be a little disappointing; luckily it was not.

The chips were thin and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They could have done with a little more colour to make them look as well cooked as they actually were but that is just a small niggle. With them coming in a mini frying basket though, please bring back standard plates of food all is forgiven, it was difficult to figure out how to season them evenly or where to pop a little bit of ketchup or mustard. The mini basket didn’t even add anything to the aesthetics of the dish it just made it harder to eat.

Its salad was fresh enough and drizzled in a dressing that helped to give it a little more flavour and depth to it simply being some plain salad on the side. The choice of leaves and salad in general seemed a little odd given the dish that it had been served alongside and there could have been a better salad combination to make the dish marry up together. It was a very basic side salad that will very quickly fall from my memory of ever having eaten.

Luckily the star of the show was delicious. The mac n cheese was loaded with well cooked and flavoursome pieces of lobster, pasta that was well cooked but not over done and a rich and cheese loaded sauce and topping. It was a real whopper of a dish and a mission to eat but when food is so tasty there is absolutely no way I am admitting defeat. Having such a rich dish of such quantity did make me ponder why they felt the need to go with so many chips instead of a side of garlic bread or something so at least then the bread could be used to mop up the remaining cheesy joy in a way a chip cannot.

Mac n Cheese with lobster, fries and salad

Pasta, cheese and lobster piece stringing up from dish

It was certainly an experience to have gone to this restaurant and whilst the mac n cheese hit all the top marks everything else food wise was fairly on the average side with a huge dollop of being made to feel uncomfortable because of the completely ludicrous dress code of many of the female staff. If there was a way to get the mac n cheese without having to sit in that environment again then I would happily eat the dish again but there is no way I can recommend the restaurant in its current outfit.

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