Brummell recommends: Coal Office

A new head chef brings vibrant flavours to this contemporary collaboration between design Tom Dixon and Michelin-starred Israeli chef Assaf Granit

Food and Drink 27 May 2022

The background

Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross has quickly become a hotspot for some of the best relaxed and contemporary dining options in the capital, with the aptly named Coal Office standing out as a vibrant and unique addition among this strong roster of restaurants. 

Coal Office is a collaboration between renowned British designer Tom Dixon and Michelin-starred Israeli chef Assaf Granit, and their combined expertise allows it to deliver on both style and substance in equal measure. This coming together of worlds is not only represented in the food, which views the rich flavours and convivial dining culture of the Middle East through a modern lens, but the lively and welcoming atmosphere that has been created through the design. Now, the restaurant has a new head chef in Dan Pelles, who formerly worked as sous chef at Jean-Georges in New York and has a personal connection to Granit having been a finalist on Game of Chefs, the Israeli version of MasterChef, where he met the chef patron, a regular judge on the programme.

The space

It’s rare that a restaurant comes with such a pedigree for its interior design, and as you’d expect every detail down to the smallest utensil has been meticulously curated according to Dixon’s contemporary aesthetic. Housed in a Victorian building typical of the factory structures found in the area, leaning into this stripped-back, industrial look, the space curves around the canal with several distinct areas, including two outdoor terraces ideal for soaking in the buzzy surrounds of Coal Drops Yard on a summer evening. Handily, if any of the tableware takes your fancy you can pop next door to the Tom Dixon store for a browse. 

While the dining space includes more intimate seating choices, for the fully immersive experience opt for the counter, where you can watch (and smell!) endless trays of fresh bread leave the oven. Not only does it add to the laid-back, sharing style of the menu, but the chefs are more than happy to take time out of the busy service to explain the dishes.  

The menu

While it’s possible to eat individually, the menu is really enjoyed best when picking an assortment of plates to be enjoyed by the whole table. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll be too full for bread. There’s a good reason why the kubalah, its light and fluffy take on a Yemeni brioche served with tahini, has become a signature dish. 

The menu is split into small, in-between and big plates, with the portions pleasingly generous. The polenta, decadently presented with copious amounts of cheese and truffle, is a rich and warming kick-start to the meal. Opt for one of the salads, another strong point for the Coal Office, as a lighter counterpoint. 

While it’s tempting to skip over those mid-point courses, they offered some of the most delicious surprises of the night. Instead, share a plate of Shula’s calzones, ravioli-like parcels stuffed with feta and pecorino in a fresh tomato broth. The main event is the time to go heavy on the meat and fish, such as the dramatic plate of melt-in-the-mouth Cornish sole, served with a rice and okra risotto on the side. 

The blending of Middle Eastern and European textures and flavours comes through most on the dessert menu. Soft olive oil cake is scattered with crunchy kadaifi pastry, mopping up the rich moat of pistachio anglaise. Meanwhile, the ice cream options are not to be missed, and there might even be a special for the night, with a brown butter and date combination the star of the show. 

The bill

Dinner for two, without wine, is around £120. 

The verdict

Design and dining come together in perfect harmony in this lively destination that brings an innovative take on the culinary scene of the Middle East to King’s Cross.