The memorable meat at The Coal Shed certainly isn’t surprising, but the flavourful seafood and great sides, starters and desserts make for an impressive meal overall.
On a bleak early September evening, we ask for defiantly summery drinks: Jamie goes for a fruity Beach Session IPA from local brewery Lost Pier, and I choose a crisp Hallets cider, handmade in the hills of Wales (both £5.50).
We dovetail: I go fish then steak, Jamie pork then fish. His smoked old spot pork belly, with apple and radish slaw (£8) is a louder affair: with a tang and a kick to it. My fire-roasted prawns with broad beans and jersey royals (£9) are fantastic, with large, smoky, fluffy prawns – and the secret sauce is fresh and fragrant too.
We indulge in the à la carte options, but it’s worth noting that there is also an express menu available at off-peak hours. Jamie settles on the south coast fish stew, with scallops, prawns, smoke liquor and more crustaceans (£23).
He’s gleeful, exclaiming that “it tastes like eating the cast of Finding Nemo”: a salty, vibrant cornucopia of fish, brimming with the tasty echoes of colourful personalities.
I’m thrilled with my steak too: an attractive Himalayan salt aged sirloin (£24), which is tender, and perfectly cooked over coal to a consistent, delicious, medium texture. The outer third is neatly fire-tinged; the inner is pink and succulent. Waiter Georgi suggests salsa verde sauce to accompany the steak. It’s an aromatic way to vary the flavour at times, but I prefer to enjoy the steak as is, or paired with some chunky chips, cooked in beef fat to joyful effect (£4).
The sides at the bottom of the menu look irresistible, and prove delightful. The garlic field mushrooms are generously infused with a treacly oil (£4), while the truffle mac’n’cheese, adds a contrasting rich and cheesy tone to the meal, with a lovely crispiness on top (£5).
The service is attentive and efficient: Georgi politely wonders if we can possibly fit in dessert. Maybe a bit of ice cream, to share, if they have any? They do! We order a selection of homemade ice cream for £6. We’re told the options change weekly: the lemon thyme is our favourite, joined by a somewhat savoury honey and walnut, and a sharp berry flavour.
Quality permeates the whole menu. In addition to the treats listed above, I appreciate their fantastic loose-leaf Assam tea (£3), for example. Furthermore, Georgi explains that they aim to make as much in-house as possible, down to the mayonnaise we dipped our chips in.
Photo by Jamie Wilkinson
8 Boyce's Street, 01273 322998