Coin Laundry / Exmouth Market, London


A little while back we heard of a new place opening up that boasted plans to reintroduce the much maligned chicken kiev. *Groan*. Aren't there enough fucking themed food places in London already? Then we checked out the trendy-font menu - Spag Bol Croquettes? Fuck yeah we're trying them. And a cheeseburger? Enough said.

There is nothing particularly special about the look of Coin Laundry. As far as reconditioning jobs go, they have done a bang up one of restoring the pub-ness back to what was once a Caribbean restaurant - old decorative tiling adorns both the frontage and some walls inside. They have also stayed true to the current en vogue design tropes of bare brick walls, pared down lighting and Formica cafe tables. The result is a weirdly sparse space - too boozer to be 100% restaurant, too restaurant to be comfy boozer.

The menu reads like a 'Vice caters your parents engagement dinner party' think piece - taking old school dining classics and giving them a dernier cri makeover: The menu is peppered with bygone dishes like faggots, shepherd's pie, and speciality of the house Chicken Kiev, given fancy makeovers. And the delicious fizzy syrup-water that we remember from the Sodastream of our youth has been morphed into strange cordial concoctions such as pear and clove, tasty but way too subtle in the taste-the-actual-sugar stakes.

The cheeseburger arrives looking delightful and suspect in equal measures - Yes, that is a bap. A floured bap. But it is OK, it is a surprisingly good bap - with a fluffy soft inner and crisp, pliable outer shell. It is a decent bread kennel for the two marvellous thin patties, with outrageously good dark crusts from a good smashing, seasoned well with generous meaty flavour and adorned with a gooey, stringy Red Leicester-style cheese melted into the nooks and crannies. 

Added to this medley are some finely diced onions, diced pickles, a deeply sweet ketchup and some English mustard which all meshes together into a delicious sweet-piquant relish. A lot of places say they model their cheeseburger on the classic McDonald's version, but this is the first one that properly tastes like it: Having all the separate ingredients mingle together in the sandwich offers different subtle blends in every mouthful that brings recollections of Ronald's creation to mind, with an added dry heat from the mustard on the back of the tongue throughout.  It is really good. We are genuinely surprised.

The memories continue with the Spag Bol croquettes which offer up insta-reminiscences to our Aunty's savoury mince 'n onions style Bolognese that she used to serve up when we were kids, covered in a thick, crisp breadcrumb. Ever so slightly dry, and could use a good Arrabiata-style dip, but great flavours and worth trying for sure. 

When this place is busy it probably has a decent atmosphere, but struggles in the day as a half-empty makeshift cafe. Regardless, the food we tried was very decent and conjured up fond recollections. We'll be back to see if the Chicken Kiev can match up with the Bernard Matthews ones we used to nosh down after school with some potato waffles*. 

  • Rob

*These guys serve waffles too, but only for breakfast.  

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