Ok. May be it is not Russian. Even though I am never wrong.
May be it is only some sort of Tom Dick and Harry Dixon show room. A sort of terra experimentalica for its furniture: a la Let's create a bar and restaurant full of our stuff. Or may be it is warehouse disguised as a bar and restaurant - that's why the bar is closed most of the time. Probably both: "Come to Coal Office Tom Dick and Harry Dixon's Wearhouse-Showroom-Bar&Restaurant" the advert should say or rather "Don't Come to Coal Office Tom Dick and Harry Dixon's Wearhouse-Showroom-Bar&Restaurant".
After many attempts to get on the upper deck or the roof-terrace of the Coal Office and find out why it has been, all year so far, mysteriously closed to public et me en fin voilà.
Not without a little cheating though. Earlier last week, for an Niem fois I tried my luck with the Coal Office. And this time, lo and behold I was luckier than the previous ten times! The reception girl said that since 1 July Musical Mondays are taking place on the Coal Office upper deck. "It is free. You just have to sign on the guest list online" she recomended after having explained, like all the previous times, that otherwise the space opens only for private parties.
I registered on the website as advised, but couldn't find how to aubsceibe on the guest list for Monday 26 August. That Monday was the last of the Musical Mondays. (Forget that the website mentions also 2 September. This has been cancelled. Come on! They've already opened nine times! Don't expect them to open ten!)
Here I trot down the canal on Bank Holiday Monday evening. The sun shining in my face, dressed up. When the girl doesn't find my name on the list I pass over my LAAF card and ask her to check if I am registered under LAAF. Of course she won't find this either, but she lets me in straight without checking.
After 7pm the upper deck is sweating under the setting sun rays. The view is as beautiful as expected: the green of the canal on the left, the glory of the new silhouette of the Coal Drops Yard on right.
The DJ is young and going.
Unlike eveeybody else I sit inside. Partially to hide from the last efforts of the summer day to melt me down; partially to watch the people at work : DJ, Cocktail Master, Maître d'hôtel and waiter; partially to contemplate the dickiness of a bar fully furnished with Tom Dick and Harry The Posher Ikea Dixon.
Maître d'hôtel Paul, gallant and friendly presents me with the menu and answers patiently my questions deapite the terrace being busy.
Yes, this is the last "open to public" Musical Monday, because they are not equipped nor intend to equip the terrace for good or bad weather. Yes, they have been busy with private parties nearly every evening (^^ which doesn't explain why the terrace has to be kept empty during the day). Yes, they will keep it strictly closed for private parties as inside they can play with the space by making one big table and sit as much as 20 or 30 people which you can't do otherwise. It's just too small.
Basically Paul did his best to introduce me to the idea that because the inner space is very small they did and will continue to do all possible to keep the big terrace closed to public.
Also, and now listen carefully, "We did special Musical Monday menu" trying to keep the prices low" (^^) That's right, you open to public once a week because you want to deliver cheap drinks and nibbles to the masses (^^).
A look at the menu catches me unprepared. £8 the cocktail when I was expecting £16. Because honestly, if an otherwise "private" place opens exclusively few times a year under priced cocktails is exactly what I expect to get.
The impression of "affordable prices" though quickly disappears, when I realise that the basic and only alcohol ingredient in all cocktails is... the 17% Lillete! A cocktail with Lillete, read berries tea and soda is basically read berries tea. Never mind that it is called Tipsy Tea. Just like a sherbet with soda and passion fruit infused Lillet is still....a sherbet mainly.
Not that I mind people drinking whatever, but a whole cocktail list based on Lilette, I take personally and perceive as an offence. After all the evening is publicised as music and "mouthwatering cocktails"...
So here we are: we are dealing with a place that neither wants to let people in, nor, in case they've got in, wants to serves them alcoholic beverages. What is this?
First I thought: This is a very gourmet place (as the two canapes I was offered were rather good and Paul said that it is representative for the quality of the food in the trstaurant bellow) and they want to keep your palette fresh so that you may taste better the delices they cook for your (many of those present at the terrace had a dinner reservation bellow).
Second thought: this is a place of its/our time : vegan and sober. Good but vain effort od thinling for untrue - meat and normal alcohol are served in the restaurant.
Third I thought: they want to keep Tom Dick and Harry Dixon's furniture intact. Everybody should stay sober as to think to bend down not to bump their heads in one of the countless light-bodies hanging of the ceiling and poking off the walls around. A quick bracket: I was drawn into the disabled lavatory - I know I shouldn't - like a night butterfly to a camp fire because of the mad amount of huge "light bodies" installed there. The designer of this cubicle must have thought "If I install enough Tom Dick and Harry Dixon lamps in this cubicle I can make the blind see".
And last, when I slept over the impressions of the experience, I thought: Who hates smoke and smokers most? Ex-smokers. Therefore: Who hates drink and drinkers most? Ex-drinkers!
And who are the ex-drinkers around?
Come on, you know it! Who are the people who drink water in wine glasses in gourmet pubs in Islington and beyond?
That's right! The New Already Old Russians.
Food wise here, as in most places around the Coal Drops Yard, it is delicious. Hence, not much to be said about it.
Say our lunch at Hicce, with Antony last winter, was perfect to the point that I had to take photo of the bill so to not forget what we've eaten. All perfection dissolves in the air, so did the lunch at Hicce. I only know it was perfect. I have no other recillection of it. Not even of the converstion we had with A, as good food has this meditative quality to empty one's head. I know we tried practically everything on the menu and it was all evenly perfect.
Good was also The Drop, yard level, which we visited with Caroline at lunch on 1st November, the Coal Drops Yard official opening day. Surprisingly, I remember two of the things we had that day: Soup of the Day and fish balls .Both very good... But again: Hey, what is there to be said about decent, good places? A place should have something more than that to stay in one's mind.
At the Coal Office I only tried the chickpeas and beetroot canapes. Coming from a late and greedy lunch I couldn't eat more though I wished I had some space for the small bread balls covered with poppy-seeds.
The terrace was too hot for food - that's true. Also the minute the sun hid behind the trees to the West, a nice breeze started licking the upper deck taking off the heat.
With nightfall DJ Kassian of Spirit Land got more and more groovy playing his own tunes and the coots swimming round the duckweed in the darkening canal waters got more and more playful.
Upon departure I said to so far friendly Paul "Bay, I'll see you soon". To which he weirdly answered "I doubt it".
I wonder why? May be he had already checked PSTS PSTS Persona Non Grata List...
27 August 2019
For PSTS PSTS check: http://www.londonartandfood.com/443313412