GRACE AND FLAVOUR

Grace Dent finds a feel­good hang­over cure at Coin Laun­dry The board games will be a pos­i­tive boon if your Jan­uary Tin­der date tran­spires to be, in the flesh, more Fun­gus the Bo­gey­man than Ja­son Statham

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Magazine - - Upfront -

We are mud­dling to­wards Lon­don’s least ap­peal­ing pe­riod: late Jan­uary, early Fe­bru­ary. Dark­ness, damp­ness and next to no joy fill the dull days. Aside, that is, from read­ing col­leagues’ te­dious Fit­bit-synced Tweets or sort­ing out one’s pants drawer. Thank­fully, I bring light re­lief. I’ve found you a cheap­ish and def­i­nitely cheer­ful place with pin­ball ta­bles, chicken Kiev, board games, booze and com­pli­men­tary chew­ing gum.

The gum will be nec­es­sary af­ter Coin Laun­dry’s jolly de­cent garlic­stuffed Kievs, in case you’re hop­ing for a snog with tongues in an EC1 al­ley on the way home. The board games will be a pos­i­tive boon if your Jan­uary Tin­der date tran­spires to be, in the flesh, more Fun­gus the Bo­gey­man than Ja­son Statham. ‘I know, let’s play Hun­gry Hip­pos!’ one could yell, alert­ing the wait­ress to keep on bring­ing the Pisco In­fer­nos. Coin Laun­dry — sup­pos­edly a Seven­ties-themed restau­rant, al­though I’m not con­vinced — has taken over the cor­ner spot at the end of Ex­mouth Mar­ket where the rather cav­ernous two-floor Cot­tons Rhum Shack once lived. This was a fact clearly per­turb­ing sev­eral of the lo­cal res­i­dents when I took a group of friends on its open­ing week. They stared through the win­dow, mak­ing dra­matic ‘WTF’ faces as we took ad­van­tage of the Friz­zante Bianco on draught and picked at a plate of cheese and pineap­ple on sticks. Don’t worry, this isn’t the hard Ched­dar and tinned pineap­ple af­fair you might get at your Aun­tie Sheenah’s birth­day. The cheese is breaded and deep-fried and the pineap­ple is in a sub­tle jelly form. They’re re­ally rather mor­eish.

In fact, the menu at Coin Laun­dry is com­pletely great. Cru­cially, some­one here can re­ally cook and has strived to make nov­elty snacks de­li­cious. Thus there are pick­led eggs, Spam frit­ters, tara­masalata with bread­sticks and baps stuffed with potato waf­fle and egg. And most ex­cit­ingly: chips with curry sauce. Coin Laun­dry’s theme should re­ally be ‘Help­ing Your Hang­over’ be­cause here is a bar-snack list of de­li­cious com­fort­ing non-diet items best suited to be­ing served to one’s sofa.

Still, al­though food at Coin Laun­dry cer­tainly has a retro nov­elty vibe, that’s about as far as the schtick stretches. We went ex­pect­ing KC and the Sun­shine Band on the stereo, serv­ing staff in flares, ter­ri­ble lava lamps and other, well, groovy para­pher­na­lia. In ac­tual fact, Coin Laun­dry’s dé­cor is a much more muted af­fair and they were play­ing Noughties R&B. Nev­er­the­less, this is the sort of place to take a mixed crowd who have a ten­dency to be silly and per­haps slightly noisy.

We took one well-be­haved child and a wrig­gly tod­dler with us for an early evening din­ner and not only were the small peo­ple wel­comed cheer­fully, they found tons on the menu to love. That, in Lon­don, is as good as group fam­ily din­ing gets. We shared a pretty de­cent plate of lamb fag­gots in mint jelly and a messy but de­li­cious old-school prawn cock­tail. The chicken Kiev comes in two vari­a­tions: with a good but­ter leaf salad or with a healthy por­tion of ro­manesco cov­ered in melted cheese. Coin Laun­dry’s baked beans are home­made. The pud­ding menu is brief but cer­tainly mem­o­rable. The ba­nana boat for two is one of the most hys­ter­i­cal pud­dings I have seen in my en­tire life. It is a stu­pen­dous truck­load of ice cream, var­i­ous sprin­kles, as­sorted sauces, chipped bits and flaky things with, some­where in its gooey midst, a ba­nana hid­ing coyly. I can’t say I en­joyed any of the spoon­fuls I ate, but it will live on in my mem­ory. The Black For­est tri­fle, on the other hand, was ex­cel­lent. I dis­tracted my friends with my cap­ti­vat­ing chat, pulled it to my end of the ta­ble and fin­ished it on my own. Coin Laun­dry, you aren’t per­fect, but you make the long dark nights jolly. For me, that’s good enough.

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