I was keen on trying Shrimpy’s, the recently opened sister restaurant of the East London institution Bistroteque. I have been to Bistroteque many times and have always enjoyed their bistro-style cooking with little pretence and all the more flavour, so I was looking forward to an evening of similar quality and culinary pleasure also atÂ Shrimpy’s.
Shrimpy’s is located in the until previously unfashionable area around King’s Cross, which at the moment undergoes a huge development, not far from the famous street food Eldorado Eat Street. Situated in an unused petrol station, (called “The Filling Station”), which is currently being redesigned by the architect Carmody Groarke (probably not someone I would let close to designing my home, but then I am all ignorant about modern architecture) it represents the pinnacle of industrial London style.
I went to Shrimpy’s during the short days of British summer and as I was early I spend some time with a book and a drink on the terrace (sadly no food is served outside) enjoying the view of the canal. Well, it might not be the most picturesque part of London’s waterways, but everything looks kind of nice in the sun.
The restaurant doesn’t exactly look inviting from the outside, it reminds of a workers’ canteen in an industrial area, but inside it’s kind of cute. There is a central bar where interesting looking drinks are mixed, about 15 tables around the bar and the white walls are decorated by naive drawings. The service was very good and everything went surprisingly smoothly, considering the restaurant has only been open for such a short while.
Shrimpy’s food is a curious mixture of US-American (fried chicken, sweetcorn chowder) and Central/South American (nachos, ceviche and chimichurri). Other dishes could be derived from anywhere (monkfish, chilli, fennel, lemon or octopus, potatoes, paprika). I am not sure one can pigeon-hole the restaurant as “American” even though one can’t deny the American influence.
I am sad to say that I was not excited by Shrimpy’s food. In fact I had a very mediocre meal which I found particularly disappointing after having had stunning food on my recent travel to the Southern States which completely turned my opinion on US cooking. At Shrimpy’s the food was not only blah, I also found it massively overpriced for what was offered.
We had some Plantains, chips and dips (4) to snack on while scrutinizing the menu. A generous portion of fried plantains (basically non-sweet bananas) and nachos (I did hope for potato chips actually) came with guacamole (tasty and creamy) and tomato salsa (nicely spiced but too watery).
For the remainder of the dinner, we chose US-sounding dishes. Sweetcorn Chowder, Salsa, Sour Cream (6.5) was a decent soup and the best dish of the evening. The sweetness of the corn was nicely counteracted by the spicy chilli salsa and the chilled sour cream. Â Worth 6.5£? I don’t think so though.
What both mains had in common was the complete lack of flavour and a big yawn that overwhelmed me while consuming them. I was intrigued and wondering if a soft shell crab burger could ever work. Shrimpy’s take of it, a Soft shell crab burger and avocado (14.5) was prove that it doesn’t. It’s a waste to put a lovely and probably at some point crispy soft shell crab between two massive burger buns on top of a tasteless layer of avocado mousse. I could have told them the crab will turns soggy, and the massive amount of starch won’t let the crab flavour come through at all. And no Shrimpy’s chef, to serve it with a bottle of tabasco sauce on the side does by no means save the dish!
I thought I was being naughty when ordering the fried chicken and was hoping for some cholesterol raising fun and flavour. The Fried chicken, sweet corn and red pepper polenta (16) was more the weight watchers version of fried chicken, which would not have been a problem as such if the chicken/ the red pepper salsa/ the polenta would have tasted of anything! Adding some salt helped, but still didn’t make us forget that the batter was soggy and that 16 pounds could have bought us a huge amount of possibly more satisfying fried chicken at Kentucky’s.
The food at Shrimpy’s is not bad, but it is pedestrian. I left unsatisfied and felt that I had over-paid. Why this reluctance to use spices, herbs, chilli, even salt – is it playing (too) safe? It’s early days at Shrimpy’s and it might pick up, otherwise I doubt it will be around for long.
- Food: 5/10
- Service: 8/10
- Ambiance: 6/10
- Value for Money: 4/10
- Chances of Returning: Slim
- Verdict: unsuccessful take on American cuisine
Kings Cross Filling Station,
Goods Way, London, N1C 4UR
Tel: 020 8880 6111