“Chicken of Beef?”. That’s all that’s on the menu at Mark Hix’s latest restaurant, Tramshed. And not just what’s on the menu – it’s also what greets you when you arrive – in the form of a spectacular Damien Hirst creation, ‘Cock and Bull’, that’s suspended in the middle of the dining room. But don’t let all the formaldehyde put you off your food.
I’ve been walking past Tramshed on my way to work for the past few days. And today, SauvyB and I are heading there for a quick-lunch. Aptly named, it’s housed in a famous tramshed building on Rivington Street that was built-in 1905 and used as an electricity generating facility for the tramway system.
It’s the seventh restaurant that chef, restaurateur and food writer Mark Hix has opened – who’s best known for his original take on British gastronomy and is frequently celebrated as one of London’s most eminent restaurateurs with an unrivalled knowledge of ingredients with provenance. I came to London armed with a (very) long list of places I wanted to eat at when appropriate meal times were available, but I’m ashamed to admit this was not on it! The fact I’m passing it daily, must mean the food gods are looking after me.
We’re seated at the bar overlooking a sea of diners – a mix of corporate and the young and trendy. The businessman sitting beside us has completely demolished his chicken, leaving nothing but a pile of bones and a dirty napkin that’s been tucked in to his collar, saving his crisp white shirt from his luncheon evidence.
SauvyB is Sauv B by name and Sauv B by nature (her words not mine). She loves a Sauvingon Blanc but isn’t happy with her choice of something Spanish today.
We decide to share the selection of three starters; Whipped chicken livers and Yorkshire pudding; Spinach, blue cheese and walnut salad; De Beauvoir salmon ‘Hix cure’ with shaved fennel and samphire (£7.50 per person) and the Roast Woolley Park farm free-range chicken and chips (£15.50 for 1 person of £25.00 for 2-3 people) and not that we need them, but some Scrumpy-fried onions (£3.75) – these would be a dangerous beer drinking accompaniment.
Samphire must be big here, it’s the third time I’ve eaten in the past 48 hours. Salty and crunchy with the fennel and silky soft salmon. SauvyB loves the blue cheese salad.
How could you resist creamy whipped chicken liver and Yorkshire pudding? This is what jumped out at me from the menu in passing. The Yorkshire pud is a battered artwork in itself. And Dad, I’m sorry to say – these really do top yours.
Out little chicken arrives, up-ended and impaled on a ceramic spike and I can hear the screams from vegetarians everywhere. It’s so moist and full of flavour. We ask for a spoon to assist dipping our chips into the delicious gravy. We can see slabs of Mighty-marbled Glenarm sirloin (available in 250g – 1kg servings) being delivered to the table next to us. Presentation is impressive, without being anything but simple and slightly medieval. We watch as the meat is sliced effortlessly – charred on the outside and pink in the middle. SauvyB and I are coming back another day for that!
My mum jokes that as she gets older, her hands are starting to look like chicken feet. And I think this next photo is evidence that I am inheriting these from her… there’s really not much difference between the actual chicken feet (that SauvyB has asked me to remove for her) and my hands! Thanks mum.
In the basement of Tramshed is the Cock ‘n’ Bull gallery which houses rotating exhibitions and a curated food library. As we walk out, there’s a fresh batch of Cheese & chive Madeline (GB.50p each) cooling on the bar – these are part of the bar snack menu that also includes Radishes with celery salt and mayonnaise (GB3.23) and Devilled chicken hearts on toast (GB3.25).
Tramshed – 32 Rivington Street, Shoreditch EC2A 3LX – 020 7749 0478