Shrimpy's at the gas station: US diner food, London-style

Jul 26, 2012

Striking design and the King's Cross cool factor make this gastro-garage a destination diner

What you need to know
Shrimpy's is a new restaurant from David Waddington and Pablo Flack, the team behind the fashionable Bistrotheque in the City. It serves modern American seafood-themed dishes, with a hint of South America, such as a soft-shell crab burger, ceviche and tropical cocktails.

The restaurant is housed in the old BP petrol station in King's Cross, alongside the rejuvenated Regent's Canal. The building has been artfully redesigned by London architects Carmody Groarke to evoke Ed Ruscha's pop-art gas station images. It is planned as a two-year pop-up before the site is demolished and redeveloped in 2014.

Price: about £50 per head, without alcohol.

What the critics like
This King's Cross gastro-garage is where "Dickens meets Amis", says A.A. Gill in The Sunday Times. "The menu is vaguely Latin, a Brazilian and Argentinian mood board that's been passed through New York and Miami." The burgers are very now, and the hibiscus lemonade worth coming for all on its own. But in the end, it's all about being there.

Shrimpy's doesn't disappoint, says Grace Dent in the Evening Standard. The soft-shell crab is whole and handsome, deep-fried in a brioche bap. The calamari with black olive tapenade is "outstanding" and the fried chicken comes with "an awesome unctuous red pepper polenta". A chocolate sundae with caramelised pistachios and moist chunks of brownie, smothered in chocolate sauce, was "sublime".
What really makes the place a destination diner is the striking design, says Guy Diamond in Time Out. The beautiful canal-side setting has an undeniable cool factor. "They've done a great job on what will only be a two-year pop-up."

What they don't like
Shrimpy's food is its least successful element, says Marina O'Loughlin in the Metro. It's styled as "Calexican", a mash-up of Mexican flavours and California health freak ingredients, without the courage of its convictions.

It's impossible to get there by car, says Giles Coren in The Times. "There's no parking, no stopping and no U-turns."

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