The Coal Shed London Restaurant Review
The Coal Shed London: The best of the Brighton branch with a sprinkle of influence from The Salt Room
I used to travel up from Brighton to London regularly and when I did, one thing stood out like a sore thumb… the pace of life. I would feel the change as soon as my brogues landed on the platform, everyone in a hurry to get somewhere and often, brashly, crisscrossing past you, leaving you dazed and confused.
Being out of that way of life for almost a year, I found myself strangely excited at the prospect of being in the thick of all the hustle and bustle again; living the good life in Hassocks in your 20s is a privilege but my soul is in the city. The reason for my trip up to the big smoke – dinner at ‘The Coal Shed London’.
After making its mark in Brighton and being named “one of the best places to eat in the UK” by the Observer Food Monthly Awards, owner Razak Helalat decided to take the successful formula to a London crowd. Despite a physical move, The Coal Shed London remains true to its roots, continuing to source meat and fish from the finest Sussex suppliers, in addition to working with new local suppliers in London too.
The glass-fronted restaurant is located at the One Tower Bridge development, right on the bank of The River Thames with its neighbours, the Tower of London (opposite) and The Bridge Theatre (around the corner). Residing on two floors, with the private dining room (seating 14) located up on the mezzanine floor, it’s a pretty big site. At the entrance there’s a formal meet and greet area where coats are taken and drinks can be sipped up at the cocktail bar.
It’s an elegant and intimate dining environment and there’s a clear Japanese influence to the interior design; lots of dark wood, Shoji (Japanese screens), low lighting and a forest colour scheme. Most importantly though it’s welcoming and comfortable. To the left back of the restaurant, there’s an open kitchen, which is visible but not intrusive thanks to a Shoji partition.
The menu is mostly led by the seasons and inspired by the unique finds from suppliers. Rare bread meats feature as menu specials, including organic Longform beef, which is one of the oldest British beef breeds and credited as making England famous for its roast beef.
With 10 strong party of bloggers dining that evening, the restaurant arranged for what felt like tasters of the whole menu to be brought out for us to try. As dish after dish came out in very quick succession, the table heaved under the weight of the many choices and my eyes greedily scanned the table for the courses I desired most. Everything bar two of the snacks went down well with me – the stuffed olives (because I just can’t get on board with them) and the crispy beef tendons (which despite the miniature dollops of kimchi ketchup and wasabi mayo were much of a nothingness).
Highlights for me were the beef tartare crisps sprinkled with chives; these had the crunch of a pork scratching but the flavour of a posh packet of cheese and onion crisps. The Orkney scallops were a delight too, served on top of celeriac circles, topped with lemon rind and alongside a jug of seaweed, lemon and tarragon sauce. Seductively plump with a powerful zing, they melted in the mouth in seconds. A jaw-dropping, hunk of meaty monkfish proved to be the centrepiece of the entrees, cuddled with samphire and mussels on top of a pool of kelp butter; the portion size was such that there was plenty enough for us all to sink our teeth into. The pickled onion rings were a fun side addition; crispy, sweet and sour, with each bite exploding in the mouth like popping candy.
The overall showstopper for me though was the Moroccan spiced goat (for two), sprinkled with red pomegranate jewels and coriander garnish. The smokiness and tenderness of the meat was heavenly and again generously portioned and accompanied by chickpeas, flatbread and aubergine sides – plenty enough to share with the table.
Desserts we picked for ourselves and I felt a calling for the Baked Alaska. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting though; this was more of a nod to the retro classic – a meringue, biscuit and ice cream tower. As good as it tasted and as classy as it looked, you can’t call it a Baked Alaska if the ice cream and sponge (missing) isn’t iglooed within the meringue and baked in the oven. The way a traditional Baked Alaska defies logic by miraculously staying cool in the middle but warm on the outside is what makes it so impressive. I loved all the flavours and the sharp, sea buckthorn dollops went beautifully with the ginger biscuit but it’s probably best to rename it to prevent any dashed hopes and dampen its deliciousness.
RATING: Must Go | Worth A Try | Give It A Miss
PRICE: The lunch and pre-theatre menu is £15 for one course, £20 two courses and £24 three courses (available Monday to Saturday 12 – 6.30 pm)
The Coal Shed London has definitely won me over. All the staff were professional, well versed with the menu and the service was speedy. Plus, the menu was filled with all sorts of things I wanted to try. Being just over an hour from Brighton I’d say it’s well-worth hopping on a train and making a day or night of it.
*I was invited to The Coal Shed but this does not have any bearing on my review which will always be an honest account of the experience.
NEED TO KNOW
‘Brighton Rocks’ Dinner with Michael Bremner: On Friday 26th January, The Coal Shed London will welcome Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees into their kitchen to kick off a series of collaborative dinners held on a monthly basis throughout 2018. Each visiting chef will collaborate with The Coal Shed London’s Executive Chef Dave Mothersill, Head Chef Chris Ditch and Head Pastry Chef Laura Petersen on a creative five-course menu. Tickets are £55pp with wine pairing available for an additional £30pp and dinning kicking off at 7pm. Advanced dietary requirements can be catered for on early request, and advance booking is required. Visit www.coalshed-restaurantlondon.co.uk to book.
The Coal Shed
One Tower Bridge, 4 Crown Square, SE1 2ZR
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