London's Cultural Guide

Coal Office

So you’ve never been to…Coal Office, Coal Drops Yard

Four years on, Assaf Granit's renowned King's Cross restaurant is as crazily busy as ever

Where exactly is it? Housed in a Victorian building that follows the curve of the Regent’s Canal, Coal Office boasts a uniquely elevated position overlooking both Coal Drops Yard and Granary Square.

And who is Chef Patron Assaf Granit? Well, he’s the brains behind Jerusalem’s Machneyuda, Soho’s legendary Palomar (read our review here) and its Covent Garden sister the Barbary. He’s pulled it off again here in N1C in cahoots with British interiors ledge Tom Dixon – although at the helm now in the kitchen is head chef Dan Pelles.

Coal Office
Following the curve of the canal. Photo: PR

What should I eat? The menu is naturally influenced by the Middle East, Mediterranean countries and Jerusalem itself. After complimentary Padron peppers with garlicky yoghurt, the server advised us to choose one dish from each section – Breads, Small Plates, In Between and Big Plates. Tip: don’t swerve the carbs as our pillowy Yemeni brioche (pictured below) with tahini, tomato and schug – a spicy coriander and garlicky based green sauce – was a real meal highlight.

And then? Another show-stopper was the menu’s signature dish – butter-soft octopus leg (scroll down for a pic) chargrilled and served with a savoury Yemeni pancake, before being drizzled at the table with a moreish glistening truffle harissa sauce. Pomegranates and sliced radish added colour and texture.


Coal Office
The Kubalah. Photo: PR

What else? The chef was keen we try another unusual combination – blackened hispi cabbage and calamari rings, with a herb ash. While the cabbage was all burnt-sticky deliciousness, the squid was just a tad chewy, and the citrus dressing almost too tangy, causing my boyfriend to declare the balance slightly off. ‘Perhaps the kitchen is overwhelmed?’ he wondered, glancing at the many chefs darting about.

But things were soon back on track with another signature dish, perfect for a chilly autumn evening: a cute copper pot of polenta with truffle, mushroom ragout, thick Parmesan shavings and asparagus, a creamily comforting dinner in itself.

Dessert? We shared a milk chocolate and hazelnut ice cream with buckwheat crumble and feuilletine (crispy pancakes) – essentially a deconstructed version of the iconic retro Christmas gift Ferrero Rocher. This is a smash – especially if you’re keenly sweet-of-tooth.

The interior? Stunning: candlelit, narrow, a sense of arrival, with long kitchen parallel to the tables. It’s more cavernous than first appears, spread across three floors, with two outdoor terraces. And of course the design is as muted and tasteful as you’d expect, all pale wood, bare brick, statement lighting and slinky furniture.

Coal Office
Octopus with truffle harissa. Photo: PR

What do I drink? A welcome small thimble of gin, elderflower and lemon is presented upon arrival. Our Israeli rosé from the Dalton Winery in Galilee was smoothly dry and pale, and worked with the rich flavours and seafood. Afterwards, try a digestive such as Amaro Montenegro with dessert.

What’s the service like? Very eager, especially as we had prime counter spots overlooking the kitchen (pictured above, main image): the super friendly chefs cheer and whoop and shout. It all looks great fun, the emphasis firmly on an unpretentious enjoyable experience.

Any constructive crit? Only that the plates arrived in pairs, with the briefest of intervals between them. A slower, staggered service with one plate at a time may not be possible in such a hectic dining room – but it would allow us to savour each a little longer.

Top tips: 1). Perch at the counter to watch the theatre of the kitchen; 2) don’t skip the bread course; and 3) try to resist too many carb-based dishes unless you’re absolutely bleedin’ ravenous.

Coal Office is open daily, 2 Bagley Walk N1C, more info here.

Gasholder ate as guests of Coal Office.

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