The Coal Office, Tom Dixon’s HQ restaurant in King’s Cross is worth a detour from anywhere.
Words Pendle Harte
The Coal Office is much more than a lovely space in which to showcase lots of lovely Tom Dixon products, though it is that too. The Coal Drops Yard headquarters of this major design player is a dark-coloured, stylish place with a large, busy outdoor terrace that comes into its own in the summer. We sit inside, on bar stools facing a long, open kitchen staffed by improbably friendly and smiley chefs, who despite being busy are open to chat and explain everything. The menu might need a bit of explanation – it includes some unfamiliar ingredients – and everyone’s extremely willing to discuss it all.
It’s a sharing plates idea and everything sounds intriguing and slightly mysterious. From a list of breads we choose Kubalah, described as soft Yemeni brioche with tahini, grated tomato and schug. What’s schug? It’s a Middle Eastern hot herb sauce, apparently, and the bread is a warm, cakey brioche with a perfect, almost crisp crust, and the dip is so moreish that really we would have been fine with just that, and lots of it. From the Small Plates list we choose Agvania: “summer tomatoes two ways, Israeli salad, strawberry coulis, basil oil, olive cracker”, which is a striking-looking half beef tomato, cooked slightly and filled with tiny cubes of cucumber and resting in what tastes like a chilled strawberry-infused tomato gazpacho. Another small plate is Iraqui Tropical – this is probably our favourite – yellow tail sashimi with amba pickled okra, mango, cucumber, ginger and red chilli. There’s a distinct flavour that we struggle to identify – and this is where sitting near the chefs helps. It’s the amba, which is fermented mango, she reveals.
Next is bone marrow with aubergine tartar (yes, chopped raw aubergine) and aubergine cream with pita crunch, chilli and almonds – served in the bone, which might be alarming for some (though not us) and it’s a sweet and salty treat. Finally, there’s the pulled leg of lamb, laced with pomegranate seeds and served with lettuce cups and cucumber relish, which is dreamy. We couldn’t have enjoyed it more.