Interesting to see the former Chapel Down restaurant and bar, which closed during Covid, reborn as Gas Station this month.
With very different owners at the helm – they’re the folks behind Mare St Market – we think this unique canalside destination might finally work.
The story of the site is fascinating in itself. For a whole generation (me included), back in the 1980s, 90s and 00s, it was simply the petrol station where you bought your fags and rollies before clubbing at legendary venues Bagley’s or The Cross.
Fast forward to 2013 and the now-established Granary Square development was taking shape; Caravan had opened the previous year. The humble petrol station was cleverly reborn as Shrimpy’s, a foodie pop-up in the tiny confines of the disused former petrol station.
Headed up by the team behind east London institution Bistrotheque, Shrimpy’s effortlessly nailed fine eating around a minuscule counter, with a bar serving margueritas and craft beer cans in the forecourt. Punters could perch on rickety picnic benches that offered epic sunset views over the water – not to mention the building sites beyond (what is now The Lighterman and Waitrose).
When it closed to much outcry in early 2015, we were dismayed that the site was replaced by a rather ugly new building showcasing the luxury as-yet-unfinished apartments for sale in the regeneration area.
But it was this that was taken over in 2018 by acclaimed Kentish vineyard Chapel Down, who rather quietly set up shop, having turned the whole damn site into a whopping 5,000 square foot restaurant, bar and gin distillery. With little local engagement, sadly that shut in 2019.
And now: Gas Station. We had a snoop around on a quiet midweek afternoon this week and the two-floor bar and food menu – think seafood and steaks – is extremely appealing, but what will really make it work is the expansive waterside decked terrace.
Adorned with outsize Mediterranean plants – palms, japonicas, olives, grasses and more – this leafy oasis really will be nothing short of idyllic come springtime.
And as for those sunset views? Well, they’ll always be there too.
Gas Station, Goods Way N1. Follow @gas_station_kx on Instagram for more, or head here.
Main image: Stephen Emms