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31 May 2013

Gas Station Guzzling: Shrimpy's Review

Update (2015): Shrimpy's was only ever going to be a pop-up and sadly, it has now closed down.

As I've mentioned a few times, King's Cross has become a lot more interesting since I started working there three years ago, and we would watch attentively on our lunchtime running sessions as the former petrol station on Goods Way was converted into a restaurant and bar called Shrimpy's. Created by the folks behind Bistrotheque in Shoreditch, Shrimpy's opened last year, but somehow, it took me until last week to pay a visit to the anti-diner dinette.

Shrimpy's, an anti-diner dinette in a former King's Cross petrol station.

You can sit at the outdoor bar and grill tables, but although it was relatively sunny on the evening we went, we opted for a table in the dinette. There are only a handful of tables and a few seats at the bar, so do be sure to book; it might be the back of King's Cross station, but there still aren't many other smarter dining spots in the area so it gets busy. The décor is a strange mix of minimalist chic and 1960s eccentrica. I quite liked the random giraffe, the golden palm tree and the window sill lined with cacti, but it may not be to everyone's taste.

The décor's a little whacky. But fun!

I also like the swirly-fonted menu, which was divided into more sections than I was expecting. Am I in time for afternoon tea (the Twin Peaks: cherry pie and bottomless coffee, served between 3 and 6 pm), and what combination of snackettes, appetisers and sides do I want with my entrée? While we puzzled it out, we ordered a couple of cocktails. I had had a hard day at work, so the Shrimpy's Fizz (Cachaça, pineapple, sugar, mint, lime juice and Cava) was just what I needed. It was delicious, although I would have preferred Prosecco, of course. The other drink (I forget whether it was a Paddington Bear or a Rock Hill) was too manly for me, but seemed to slip down nicely.

Cocktails and cacti.


I wanted to try for a pudding, so we skipped the snackette/appetiser options and jumped straight into the mains, which include a lot of US comfort food with Central/South American touches. I ordered the cheeseburger in a bonnet — a bonnet, it turned out, was just a tasty brioche roll in the shape of a bonnet. It was perfectly medium rare and very juicy and flavoursome, if slightly on the petite side. For me, this didn't matter too much, especially as we were also sharing some fries and some humita (sort of like guacamole but with sweetcorn as the main ingredient), but this may disappoint those with bigger appetites. You could just order more starters, of course. Or another burger. The pork pozole also performed well, even if the the chilli hanging out on the side plate was so potent that it managed to make the adjacent radish, lime and avo taste super-spicy.

The cheeseburger in a bonnet. Not to scale.

And then it was pudding time. The menu is split into "afters" and "sundaes." I saw the magic words "peanut butter sandwich," but my excitement soon faded when I saw that banana was also involved. We shared a chocolate brownie and pistachio sundae, which, again, was a little smaller, but not too small either.

L: The pork pozole, humita and burger. R: Chocolate brownie sundae.

Shrimpy's isn't cheap and the portions are pretty modes, but the food is very good and it's definitely a cool venue. It's a bit of a shame that you don't get more of a view from the dinette — you can just about see the Regent's Canal through the windows if you stretch. The outside tables are right next to the canal, of course, on what used to be the forecourt. One word of warning: Shrimpy's doesn't take cash, which is fine for someone like me who hates carrying cash, but might be annoying if you have scores and pinks to burn (and no, fivers and tenners won't get you far at Shrimpy's).

Shrimpy's. King's Cross Filling Station, Goods Way, London, N1C 4UR (Tube: King's Cross). Website. Twitter.

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