Now and then, the Palate team is blessed with two back to back corkers. In this case, a superlative meal at Parsons and a dinner at The Coach in Farringdon the following week.
You might remember The Coach in its former guise – The Coach and Horses pub, on Ray Street, Farringdon. It could only ever be described as a half-decent pub for (mainly) the local working population. Following closure in 2015, it was revamped in every sense and brought to us as the new “The Coach” in January of this year.
Racine’s Henry Harris leads the kitchen team and very ably, as the review will tell. The upscaling of the interior has been artfully done to achieve a look that is still pub-esque in essence, but more polished. Framed art, wall panelling and smart furnishings lend a kind of colonial décor with a luxuriously European twist.
I was sat (and attended to) by Betty, the newest candidate for maitre d’ of the year. She spent time at Racine and Olympic Studios in Barnes, SW13, before becoming involved in The Coach. Happily, the allocated table was just outside the main restaurant space – giving us the hubbub of the adjacent room as background noise while being able to unwind in the relaxed environment of the main pub. Conducive to the unwinding is the judicious use of dark paint and gentle lighting to set a positively “evening dining” tone in the pub’s main room.
Food-wise, the menu is progressive without being experimental. Reminiscent of Blandford Comptoir, it seems Harris wants to provide a modern menu that nods to the classics. For example, I began with a steak tartare – laced, I think, with cognac (or another brandy) and several subtle ingredients. Dense, flavoursome meat was just tacky enough and showed fraying where the mince had been torn. The seasoning too was spot on. In short: the best steak tartare I’ve enjoyed in a restaurant in a very long time – or possibly ever. After a Guinness at the bar pre-meal, I’d moved to a Bruciato red from the mid-priced section of the wine list – 2015 vintage at £59 for a bottle, and above average. It paired well with the steak tartare; holding, but not overcoming, the flavours of the food.
Grilled rabbit in mustard sauce, with smoked bacon, followed. Again the dish was sublime and cooked lovingly. It was a main course that had me in mind of Lorne, in that it was modern, though generous and hearty, with each constituent part of the dish prepared deftly. The mustard in the sauce injected zest and fun without controlling the plate. Flavours comingled, demonstrating that all had been well thought-through, just as the starter.
While 2018 is young, The Coach is so far my recommendation of the year. Accessible by Farringdon station, a walk from the City or little longer of a walk from King’s Cross to the west, this foodie pub will do well under Harris’ stewardship. If the front of house team continues to be on their game, The Coach ought (rightly) to become famed as a venue for fine food and fine treatment.
26-28 Ray Street
by C Ley