21A Foley St
© Rob Greig
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Mon Oct 22 2012
‘Back to Basics’ was the name of the fish and chip shop that preceded Bonnie Gull on this corner site. Both name and chippy were a fading ripple from the John Major years. But like the pull of the moon on wind and tides, time has renewed it, and washed up a fresh discovery for the Fitzrovia beachcomber.
The Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack started out as a pop-up in Hackney last year, but this autumn it’s anchored in this far more secure site. They didn’t go too crazy with the makeover; the room looks much as it did before, save for the addition of some wooden fish-packing cases and lots of seaside-style whitewashing to give a more rustic feel. The service is considerably more engaging and enthusiastic than under the previous ownership – on my last visit to Back to Basics, the staff were playing Johnny Paycheck’s ‘You Can Take This Job and Shove It’ on the sound system.
The most striking difference is the menu. Shots served with salmon roe are the first clue, the high prices the second. You can still get haddock and chips with mushy peas (£13.50), but Bonnie Gull is a lot more aspirational than its predecessor.
With seafood, the simplest dishes are usually the best, and freshness is key. The Devon cock crab had probably been nipping children’s toes on the sea bed not so long beforehand. Once the shell was split and dressed, the dead men’s fingers removed and some mayonnaise mixed into the brown meat, it was a meal in itself.
Bonnie Gull can do fancy too. A starter of Cornish squid was attractively presented with a cube of Cumbrian pork belly, pickled apple and endive; the priciest starter at £9, but a good choice with a very pleasing balance of textures and land-sea flavours. Fillet of grey mullet was perfectly seared on the skin side, quite beautiful with a dressing of cockles, cauliflower and a buttery sauce.
Bonnie Gull does a decent job of evoking a seaside shack. All that’s missing is warmth, sunshine, long days and a bucket and spade for the full effect.
Bonnie Gull 21A Foley St
020 7436 0921
- Opening hours:
Open 11am-midnight Tues-Sun
Tube: Goodge St tube/Oxford Circus tube
Meal for two around £65
- 21A Foley St
- 020 7436 0921
- 21A Foley St
- Bonnie Gull
Eating and drinking facilities. Café. Restaurant and bar facilities. Bookings not accepted