Shrimpy’s come to us from those behind the effortlessly hip Bistrotheque. For whoever might be able to recall such things its situated in the old BP garage near Bagleys in Kings X on York Way.
Its all change in these parts nowadays; the ever fashionable students of St Martins have moved in close by and the Guardian has its offices just up the road. All in all its enough to make your average Daily Mail reader cough into their cornflakes. “A restaurant in a garage?!!! Whatever next ? Only in London perhaps.”
To be clear they didn’t knock anything down either . The forecourt is still there, the whole wrapped in a fibre glass surround by architects Carmody Groarke (cue: lots of cooing on the architecture blogs) . I noticed on Sunday that the Observer approve; as well they might, their offices currently in a wasteland for good eateries. It will remain in this incarnation for the next few years, thereafter being situated under the luxury apartments to be built here. For now though you eat in the old service station shop. Going forward there are plans for artwork collaborations with St Martins and a bar in the forecourt – so it promises to be a great alfresco spot by the canal if the summer ever returns to these shores.
A balmy Friday evening without a cloud in the sky. The restaurant packed to the rafters with the very hippest of people (and Toby Young). The evening sun pouring in, the Waiters and waitresses impeccably coiffed, dressed in their snappy white blazers and ties. Essentially, its beautiful people territory when it comes to the staff. Yes combined with the decor made us feel like we were in South florida or some part of Pre Castro cuba rather than the old garage where you could snaffle a “Ginisters” pasty after hours. I guess it has a slight 50’s throwback feel
The clientele were or should I say are almost a feature in itself, and a continuation of the theme. Unflinchingly hip, its all skinny jean, directional haircuts and Stripy Breton tops (count: seven on the night we were there) . Don’t say I didn’t warn you if such things bring you out in a rash.
Drinks well – why not ? The list looks the part and some attention has clearly been given to the cocktail list. I didn’t try one myself (which is no bad thing due to the subsequent lime/ vitamin C overload that was about to ensue) but the margaritas are meant to be excellent.
The forecourt soon to be home to a bar and some art courtesy of those Art students at St Martins
The tuna tostada was good – the tuna sashimi grade. This has been done and is done elsewhere in a number of different variants but this version twists it away from Japan and more towards Miami. It was dressed well and the crispy plaintains or onions (the jury is still out and I forgot to ask) a nice touch.
Again excellent white fish marinated in lime and with some fiery chilli a great start on a hot summers night. I wasn’t sure about the plaintain on the side at first but the sweet denseness of them was just was was needed to counterpoint the lime and chilli.
It was all going so well……and then the lights went out – well ok not straight away we got our starters as evidenced above but the mains, shoestring fries humitas, reliant as they are (no pun intended) on the mains failed to make a show. Fortunately one main squeaked out the Skirt steak with chimichurri. Or simply Skirt as it’s referred – I think its a given that anyone coming here will know that now very fashionable cut. Tasty and far healthier on the bottom line for any restaurant that the ubiquitous fillet.
It was smokey, properly rested and obviously a good quality piece of meat. The deep umami rich tomato chimichurri among the best I’ve had in the city.
Its also worth a note about those shoestring fries (again a no show) – I’ve seen a picture – and those are fries plain and simple there is no denying that, not a shoestring in sight. Shoestring fries are a different beast altogether and if you’ve sampled the mound of the aformentioned at the Spotted pig in NYC then you are going to be disappointed here I’m afraid.
So what I was meant to have was the Soft shelled Crab burger… (photo courtesy:Ms Webb:)
This is set (if its not already by the time I finish this) to be the signature dish.
I know this why? not because I tasted it (though I did see it arrive at the table next to me some 20 minutes earlier which in hindsight is even crueller that I care to reminisce on ) but because, well you just get a sense for these things.
It looks the part. its fried, its new, its super extra crispy and its different. In short a whole new direction in the emerging burger wars in London town. I’ve seen some grumblings from Dos Hermanos about it being topped with gunk but then again the picture he posted didn’t seem to look as good as the example I saw or the pictures I’ve seen since. I can’t comment either way because it never came.
The rest of the mains look good but this is clearly the destination dish, the one you’ll travel to a garage in a half finished section of Kings X for. . This months Quo Vadis “Eel sandwich” if you will.
So there we were plunged into semi darkness fortunately the staff rallyed round and brought a few cold starters from the kitchen to keep the hunger at bay and poured everyone glasses of Cava on the house.
Cava, yes cava, its the new prosecco don’t you know? No? well consider yourself informed.- It was top quality stuff too.
A gripe, though only a small one ….
Lime clearly features heavily but perhaps there is an overreliance on that little green citrus. Now granted I ended up eating the Smoked trout salad and a Ceviche and a side salad so you might undertsand my sentiments but I wont be too harsh. That said the green salad was just not a standout dish. for me it was a little one dimensional. Maybe up against all that other fried goodness on the then the acidic bite of lime might be just the ticket but I’m still not sure its a keeper.
The trout salad was winner – again well dressed and with some delicious crispy fried onions – I thought they might have been a little more generous with the trout mind. I found one piece under all those leaves.
We tried one dessert, the Pineapple crisps – it was sharp and ideal for summer but by now I was feeling acid overload so it didn’t really hit the mark. I hear better things about the quince and the chocolate desserts. So my thoughts on those another time.
In amongst all the chaos the staff were charming throughout. So hats off to them for dealing with a powercut in their first week with smiles and apologies.
In fact one good thing did come out of the powercut- Shrimpy’s has opted to use Ipads in place of the ubiquitous pad and paper. Quite why for a restaurant with 20 something covers this was deemed necessary is anyones guess? With all the styling that has gone on to make this place look chic those Ipads are just look clumsy and totally out of place. What’s more … no power = no wifi = no worky. So the wait staff had to resort to a natty spiral bond notebooks and you know what? That made them really look the part.
There are bound to be detractors and it won’t be for everyone , but it will I am sure be hot. Book now while you can. That said apparently there will always be some walk in no booking seats at the bar (if you are lucky).
I’ll be back to try that delicious looking Burger if nothing else, so we’ll see how it beds in.
Go be trendy, be louche and then leave realising you weren’t quite as trendy as you thought.
Shrimpys, York Way, Kings Cross, London.