Review: Silence of the Lamb – Beer and meat heaven in Gyeongnidan
Gyeongnidan, on the other side of the main road from Haebangchon, is the up-and-coming neighbourhood, and has been for a year and more. Saturday nights anywhere between Jacoby’s and Vatos are now an exercise in fighting the crowds, mostly Korean, drawn by the TV crews of shows like Tasty Road on the O’live channel (God, I hate that name) to line up for what seems like hours outside any restaurant
willing to bribe the TV company lucky enough to be chosen for the spotlight.
It’s a source of irritation to many foreigners, who feel that their one little bubble of individuality in the sea of cultural and culinary homogeneity that is Seoul is gradually being eroded. On this view, the new Caffe Pascucci in Gyeongnidan – the first chain cafe in the area, if you don’t count Paris Baguette – is a straw in the wind, a chilling look forward to the day when the US base is gone, the skyline is filled with towering apartment complexes, the idiosyncratic foreigner favela gone forever.
There are days when I feel the same, to be honest, but they are offset by the feeling of being part of something exciting and interesting, something you can’t get anywhere else in Korea. And it’s offset by the emergence of new, interesting, and refreshingly different places like the place I’m reviewing today.
“The Silence of the Lamb” sounds like the sort of name you dream up when you’ve had one too many sherries, the sort of name your mate bets you that you won’t go through with, like calling your cat Chairman Meow or naming your rock band The Psychedelic Love Truncheons. But that’s the name, and having visited twice now in the restaurant’s short lifespan – they’ve been open barely a week – I can confirm that these lambs are indeed silent. They are ex-lambs. They have ceased to be.
It’s a big space, high ceilings and a big open floor as you walk in, with an open grill and bar almost in the middle of the restaurant. (I can’t help wondering how they’ll heat it in winter, or for that matter cool it in the summer.) Meat and garlic sizzles on the griddle as you pass, rousing the appetite even of those who may not be fond of lamb (Korean friends, I’m looking at you.)
The menu remains a work in progress, but is based around lamb, as you might expect, imported from New Zealand. Owned by the people behind popular Gyeongnidan bakery The Baker’s Table, the restaurant is also going to offer a range of weekend brunches based on the winning recipes from that establishment – anyone who’s ever had one of those hearty breakfasts, piled high with bacon, bratwurst and potatoes, will know what I mean.
We had the Mongolian lamb, which comes served in a hot griddle pan with some excellent bread, a whole head of roasted garlic and a big heap of thinly sliced raw onion. It was excellent; succulent, nicely spiced and reasonably generous in size. (There’s more lamb hidden beneath those bread slices, don’t worry.)
Alongside it we had the “Country Man” lamb, nominally a snack but in reality probably as filling as the Mongolian lamb, if not more so. More grilled meat chunks fighting for space with onions, peppers and lots of the excellent potatoes for which German cuisine is known. This was probably my favourite.
Lambs (“Lamb“? “Silence“?) has a range of wines and some good beers on tap for reasonable prices. As well as the reliable Bitburger – 7500 won for a full pint, served in a hefty bierkeller-style mug – they have Indica IPA on tap as well as the Gaffel Kölsch, from Cologne – available nowhere else in Korea on draft, according to the owner. Frankly, I’d be happy just to sit here and drink beer all evening, though of course the management might be less so.
Criticisms? Well, lamb is quite expensive in Korea, so the bang for your buck here does have its limits. We only tried two of the main dishes, and they were very tasty, but the Mongolian lamb might have benefited from more bread, or the option of potatoes as a side, to bulk it out a bit more. On the other hand, the “snack” option, the Country Man, was a generous dish at a lower price – I’d have been more than satisfied with that alone. Overall, had we not ordered something with potatoes or some other carbs in it, we would have still been hungry after two dishes and 32,500 won – though admittedly both myself and my dining companion the other evening are men of some scale, so your mileage may definitely vary.
For those less fond of lamb, there are other options on the menu – pulled pork, fish and chips – but they seem almost like afterthoughts. Then again, if you don’t like lamb, don’t go to a lamb restaurant.
This is a great place to go for a casual bite, something a little more formal, or just to go and drink after a long day of work. In truth, I’m not sure exactly what Silence of the Lamb is. Is it a restaurant, or is it a pub? Or is that an essentially British duality which I should put out of my mind? Whatever, I enjoyed my two visits and will definitely be back again soon.
- Category: European
- Price: $$$$
- Hours: 10am – 11pm Tuesday – Sunday. See their Facebook page for more details.
- Must try: Country Man, any of their brunches, German beer on tap
- Subway: Noksapyeong (녹사평역) exit 2
- Directions: Come out of Noksapyeong station exit 2 and walk up the main road in the direction of Namsan, towards Haebangchon. Go down through the underpass to the other side of the road and turn right at Noxa restaurant. Walk up the road (Gyeongnidan-gil) for a couple of minutes until you come to a small junction with a Paris Baguette and Tous les Jours, and turn left there. Silence of the Lamb is about 50m along the road on the left, on the second floor above a large CU Mart. The entrance is at the far end, up an outside staircase.