It was my fabulous friend Faye’s birthday recently and to celebrate she organised a trip to pop up hot spot “Shrimpy’s” at the King’s Cross Filling Station.
I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much from our brunch as I’m not really a fan of pretentious “trendy” places, and sadly on this occasion it lived up to my poor expectations!
The concept of the restaurant is cool, using an old BP petrol station and revamping it to make it look like a 60’s American diner, and as the petrol station is due for demolition in 2014, there is quite a temporary design and feel which I rather liked – it reminded me of a kitsch theme area you might find at a festival! (Though some of my friends were not impressed with the “luxury portaloo” style toilets!)
So why didn’t I enjoy it?
The service we received was literally appalling! It looked promising to start, I had brought Faye a birthday cupcake and the barman saw and bought over a candle which was very sweet! Though when the waitress came over to take our orders she had a particularly bad attitude and was very rude on several occasions to several members of our group!
When the waitress was taking our drinks orders Jess asked a question about the ingredients of one of the food items (she has a mild nut allergy) only to be snippily told “I’m doing drinks right now, when I’ve done that, then we can ask questions!” HOW RUDE! And surely it’s pretty common place to ask questions about food at this stage, so you can choose your meal while waiting for your drink to arrive?!
When she came back to distribute drinks and take our food orders (and questions!!) Myles asked what she would recommend – The Po’boy or Soft Shell Crab Burger. With a withering glare she replied darkly “I’m a vegan”! Ok, fair enough, but surely you can answer “Most people enjoy the ***” ?! And you can definitely answer without a snarl! She then baffled us all when someone else asked “How hot is the ‘Hot macaroni!” (I mean surely it’s gotta be quite spicy to be named ‘Hot macaroni!’with an exclamation point after it!) The waitress smiled (shocking in itself!) and said “You’ll have to order it and see, but I really like it!” Firstly, not helpful, but appreciate the sales technique of mystery and recommendation. And secondly YOU JUST SAID YOU WERE VEGAN!! So confused!! She then snapped at the Birthday Girl when she tried to order 3 meals at once which were to be shared between 3 of them “You have to all order one thing each”. Urgh!
The menu is an eclectic mix of North American flavours, but not much that I would actually want to eat at 12pm brunch time (though that’s not strictly the fault of the restaurant, maybe my stomach would be more prepared for burgers etc if I’d gone later on in the day).
My friend Katy and I shared a couple of meals (but were sure to order separately else get the wrath of The Angry Cheese Eating Vegan!) we got the Po’boy sandwich, Cheeseburger in a bonnet, fries and Hot macaroni! (What can I say, we were intrigued!)
The cheeseburger was really nice- well cooked and seasoned and with lots of onions, lettuce and gherkins. It was a touch on the small side, but as it was brunch and we had sides, all was good! (The “bonnet” was just the bun if you’re wondering!)
The Po’boy sandwich was the biggest disappointment of 2013 so far (#middleclassproblems)! Having had a classic Louisiana Po’boy before I was expecting a large sub sandwich. What we got was effectively a ladyfinger roll with 3 small deep fried prawns and 2 deep fried chilli slices inside. Very bland and flavourless, I was almost glad it was gone in a couple of bites!
The fries were fries, nothing special but nothing wrong, and again the Hot macaroni! was a real disappointment. It was not spicy. At all. It was however temperately hot. If this is their selling point that they serve food hot, I think it speaks volumes about this terrible travesty of a restaurant! It was also incredibly buttery (obviously, it’s mac and cheese) but ten times more than I would have liked. I don’t really like anything I eat to be swimming in half a centimetre of butter.
Noone was particulalry enamoured with the food, though the best thing on the table seemed to be the Chilaquiles (well flavoured and a decent portion size) and the side dish Humita (a delicious creamy crush of sweetcorn) which again was a good portion size. Well done Lauren who ordered both!
The food, in my opinion, was very over priced. The food was bland and the portions were small. I’m glad we were there for brunch and could take advantage of their “Sandwich and a Side for £11” deal as I would be extremely angry if I’d paid £9 for a Po’boy which would not satisfy my dinnertime appetite or tastebuds.
Again the Chilaquiles seemed to be a good bet at £7 for a big plateful (though considering it’s effectively tortilla chips, tomatoes and eggs, perhaps this too is pretty pricey?)
This is a classic case of paying for (over) hype.
*Shrimpy’s logo taken from their website www.shrimpys.co.uk