Friday, 9 November 2012

Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack, Fitzrovia

With all the trends for meaty feasts and dirty American food at the moment, it seems that the poor British seaside and its seafood have been a little forgotten.  Bonnie Gull is setting this right – following on from pop-ups in Hackney & London Bridge, they have now set up permanent home on Foley Street (on the site that used to house Back to Basics, another fish restaurant).

The room is small (and slightly cramped) with fun yet tasteful seaside décor – all white wash, checked tablecloths and a clever rope wall. Their approach is all about accessible, affordable, responsibly sourced and 100% British seafood – the menu changes depending on what seafood is good that day, and I loved the touch of the blackboard map of the UK on the wall with the catches of the day chalked up.

We started with some interesting unfiltered prosecco (fresh and cloudy, with less fizz than usual), and some beautifully fresh and shiny oysters – the Portland Pearl AAA oysters (meatier and darker in colour) were the best (£2.50 each).  I’ll try the cocktails next time as they sounded intriguing (maybe not convinced on their beetroot take on the Sidecar), many served with a fishy garnish on the side.

From the starters the mussels (£7) were really plump with a lovely, if a little over-salty, bacon, cider and crème fraiche sauce and hunk of bread on the side.  The other starter of smoked rainbow trout with beetroot, potato pancake and horseradish (£7) had a great balance of flavours, but could have done with a little more trout.

We all went for the whole Devon cock crab (£18), which came resplendent on its board, with the brown meat mixed with their ‘shack mayo’ in the shell, and really sweet white meat to pick out of the claws.  This was served with charred white sourdough and a little salad of leaves and the great crunchy, salty addition of samphire.  The chips on the side were excellent – the chunky beef dripping version were wonderfully savoury and fluffy in the middle, and the skinny fries a great match with their rosemary salt.

We just shared one dessert of poached William’s pear in mulled wine with clotted cream (£5), which was juicy and tender and worked well in the spicy booze, although could have benefited from a little longer poaching for the flavour to work its way through the whole pear.

Overall, I was really impressed by Bonnie Gull – the team are clearly very passionate about British seafood, and their wonderful ingredients are handled with care.  There is also a little of the saucy British seaside humour (we sniggered at the toilet signs that replaced ‘Men’ and ‘Women’ with ‘Winkles’ & ‘Clams’), but all pulled off with a modern, fresh and polished approach - definitely the nearest thing to being beside the seaside in central London.

Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack on Urbanspoon

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