Tuesday, 29 May 2012


For the first time since I can remember, I just didn't want to go out to eat.

British summer always seems to lie in wait, poised behind a raincloud, and just as everyone is about ready to wash away, it bursts forth with all of the golden glory of the sunny season. It's all the sweeter because it's unexpected, and people take full advantage - the pubs are packed at lunchtime like a flashback to Adland in the '80s and parks are littered with people with (often gratuitous) exposed flesh shocked pink after winter hibernation.

Last Friday evening was the golden culmination of our first week of surprise sunshine, and I had reservations about my reservations, despite the fact they were at Hix's new spot out east. It was just too amazing outside to eat inside, but I pushed our call time back as far as possible ("urgent business at the office") to sneak in some sundowners in the park and grudgingly resigned myself to an eve indoors. Life is hard.

But I needn't have worried.

Tramshed had been billed as a low-key eatery, which is almost an understatement. Although housed in an impressive space, a lofty listed former tramshed building, with even more impressive art (a specially-commissioned Hirst is the centerpiece), the overall feel is that simplicity is key. This spareness is undoubtedly to mirror the menu - set starters and then chicken or steak. Chicken. Or steak.


More than a gimmick, the choice is reflected down to the aforementioned art (and even their website URL) and seems to be a symbol of the mission of the place - solid seasonal, responsibly-sourced etc-etc-blogger-swoon food at great prices. Our waiter, the most affable Ozzie in the world, explained this in the context of the starters, which come in a trifecta of nightly-selected sharing plates, but the sentiment even extends, however tenuously, to a £1 charitable charge for water. You can't help but go over all warm and fuzzy. Well played, Sir Hix.

So after we made the surprisingly difficult decision between the two animals - chicken it was - we started in on the starters. Friday's offerings were tender and sweet asparagus in a vinagrette, ham hock with a salad of young greens and mustardy dressing, and 'popovers' (Yorkshire pudding to you Brits) with whipped chicken liver, which is apparently the only permanant member of the triad and is a soon-to-be-classic.

And then - the Chicken.

Hirst roasts a mean chicken. Literally mean, or mean-looking, with its surprisingly vicious-looking claws still intact. The bird, sourced from Woolley Park Farm which is apparently some kind of pastoral heaven, had been roasted on its head in a specially-designed dish perfect for catching errant scraps of meat, carved with an almost-machete, in the meaty jus. With the accompanying fries (McDonalds-perfect), salad (token nod towards health), and carafe of light red, the meal was reminiscent of French bistro fare in its sublime simplicity.

(Told you it was mean).

We finished with a still-warm crusty mini apple pie doused with vanilla-flecked custard and the luxury of being escorted to the back bar, which, although seemingly a bit of an afterthought in build, was an ideal place to enjoy a cocktail before settling the unreasonably reasonable bill.

With so few offerings there is no escape into average, and Hix does simplicity to perfection at a very small price but at no price to the product.

No cock and bull.

32 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3LX

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