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Coal Office

Restaurants, Middle Eastern King’s Cross
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A sibling to The Palomar and The Barbary, in a Tom Dixon-designed space.

Can’t choose between The Palomar and The Barbary? Now you don’t have to. This King’s Cross newbie comes from the same crew – who also run eateries in Paris, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, including hotspot Machneyuda – and has a menu that reads like their beautiful baby. You’ll recognise the smoky, unapologetically bold style of The Barbary, alongside the subtler, more creative slant of The Palomar. These are all the flavours of modern Jerusalem, a melting pot of the region’s most exciting edibles, from north Africa and the Middle East. Now, to the space. It’s a credit to the talent of self-taught, award-winning interior designer and co-owner Tom Dixon (whose flagship studio is on the level below) that he’s made this challenging site work. A series of knocked-through coal storage rooms, it’s essentially a long, slightly curved tunnel. But one that’s dark and disgustingly gorgeous. Giant misshapen orbs dangle and shimmer in your eyeline, bringing an ethereal, otherworldly quality to the dark, warehouse-y backdrop: warm woods underfoot, steel overhead, shades of grey in-between. It’s less Habitat café (Dixon was once the brand’s creative director), more nightclub.

The first section – also the most vibrant place to sit – mixes chest-height window tables with a long kitchen counter. And what a kitchen. Smoke and shouts and smells spilled out into the space, mingling with the loud music. It was thrilling.

As was the food. Everything we ate was bold and memorable, but a few dishes will live on in your dreams. Like the Moroccan fennel salad. A thick tangle of shaved fennel, every mouthful was wet with yoghurty harissa dressing and revealed a new surprise: a halved olive here, a whole toasted almond there, plus the sweetness of orange, the heat of fresh chilli or the zing of coriander, mint and parsley. Or, at the very end, a warm, soothing rice pudding, flecked through with the zest of kaffir limes, which tickle your nostrils as soon as the bowl is set down, and teamed with sour-cream ice cream (like frozen yoghurt, but richer) plus a stewed mango compote. In between came other great things. The Machneyuda’s polenta – a signature that’s also a hit at The Palomar – is a must, as is the shikshukit 2.0 (two dense kebabs of spiced lamb and beef, with yoghurt-laced tahini and pickled onions over a soft pitta base).

Staff, too, were a delight. A charismatic bunch, they lean into your table to explain and enthuse about the dishes. They clearly love what they do. And so they should: Coal Office may not quite be The Barbary, but it’s got plenty going for it. This is a good-looking space, with cracking service, a killer atmos, and food to give your senses a jolt. It’s the restaurant King’s Cross has been waiting for.

Details

Address: 2 Bagley Walk
London
N1C 4PQ
Transport: Tube: King's Cross
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £120.
Contact:
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Users say (1)

4 out of 5 stars
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Tastemaker

When I was visiting Jerusalem and asked around for dining recommendations, everyone whose opinion mattered said I have to go to Machneyuda. I didn’t. Because to dine there I should have booked long before I even booked my trip to Israel to start with. But it’s ok, because now we have a piece of Machneyuda right here in London. Enter Coal Office. Even though Assaf Granit (the man behind it) already has two outposts in London (Palomar and The Barbury), his new London restaurant s the closest thing to Machneyuda experience you can find in our city. At least that’s what my Israeli business partners who (ironically) took me there for lunch, told me.

It’s a Tom Dixon designed space, and it shows. There is also undeniable history in this Victorian brick building sitting along the canal. But, as much as it’s good looking, the layout is not exactly perfect for a dining experience: the restaurant is very long and thin and prone to bottlenecks. Having been seated in the narrow part we were constantly facing incoming and outgoing guests in a sort of stare-off situation. What with all the lunch time rush hour there was really nowhere for them to move.

The food is (naturally) Middle Eastern and it was stellar. The menu is organised into 3 sections that in theory should go from smaller to larger plates, but it‘s all very arbitrary in terms of size. They recommend two dishes per person and that worked for us (we were four). We just went for whatever sounded best across the board.

My personal favourites are pretzel on a stick (order this if you are an Instagram junkie) and truffled polenta, which is a staple of Machneyuda menu. It is sooo very moreish!

All in all it’s a wonderful restaurant that I cannot wait to visit again, but I think I will wait for the initial hype to die out as it’s all a bit too much now. And you definitely, definitely need to book in advance!

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