This is me attacking a crab. Don’t feel too bad for it though – it was already long gone.
Bonnie Gull Seafood Cafe is an ‘ode to the faded glory of British seaside towns’. Think pleasure beaches, fresh crab rolls on the pier, sand in your knickers, whippy ice creams and jukeboxes pumping out soul classics from another era..
I do have a tendency to be overly nostalgic.. have you noticed? So, I should mention that although I love my fond golden memories of pretty English seasides, I do also have equally strong memories of being in Frinton-on-Sea, with my brother, in a soggy swimsuit, shivering until his lips turned blue, sandy sandwiches, opaque grey seas, not being able to feel my toes, and beach umbrellas flying through the air with my dad charging after them, hoping to God they didn’t kill someone before he got to them first. *Sigh*
I miss it.
Here in London, it’s easy to forget that we live on a beautiful island and are surrounded by some of the most glorious seafood this world has to offer; Wester Ross Lobster and Langoustine, Devon Brown Crab, Loch Ryan Oysters, Manx Queenies, and Shetland Mussels… and don’t forget local fish such as Cornish Mackerel, North Sea Haddock, Selsey Cod and Gigha Halibut…
Bonnie Gull claims to offer a new approach to seafood in London — ‘accessible, affordable, simple, fresh, responsibly sourced and 100% British!’
We were excited. No soggy sandwiches here.
I took these snaps just before the heavens opened, so dashed back inside, where it was still fairly light.. but the mood had turned warm and cosy…
We poured over the menu and initially found it very hard to choose what to have. It was such a pleasure to see so much stunning British fish on one menu.. and I know that sounds silly as I was in a fish restaurant, but still – it made me feel proud to be living on this amazing island.
When we were ready, Karonlina whizzed over to us and took our order. (I should mention here, that a friendlier, smilier and more enthusiastic waitress YOU WILL NOT FIND.) She brought us some crusty bread and olive oil, some water and a bottle of wine she recommended – Creyssels, Languedoc, Picpoul de Pinet; a delicious light and citrusy white wine – perfect for complementing seafood.
I have had oysters twice in my life, and both times I was in a very poor state afterwards, so I have concluded, sadly, that I am allergic to them. However, Lovely Man is not in any way allergic to oysters and so promptly ordered three Carlingford Rock (Grade II).
I chose Inverawe Smoked Salmon Blinis and they were absolutely delicious…
We then moved on to our starters.. (the oysters and blinis were pre-starters. Love that. I sometimes have a pre-breakfast. Then a breakfast. And then, occasionally, a post-breakfast. Although, that can sometimes be called pre-lunch.)
And then, the really exciting bit. I was mostly excited about being given a hammer and being allowed to use it to smash things up (crabs) in a restaurant… Lovely Man was very brave sitting next to me with his Hake. I had a hammer, and I was not afraid to use it…
I should say at this point that I am a novice when it comes to crab bashing up. Is that the correct terminology? I put on my napkin with the little clips around my neck, so I looked like my grandpa… and set about this creature a little tentatively at first.. but it didn’t take long for me to get in the swing of things. I was crunching and smashing and bashing.. and bits of crab may or may not have landed in places they perhaps should not have.
What was I meant to do? They gave me a bucket of TOOLS.
All the fish was fresher than fresh – I could practically smell the ocean and taste the salt on my lips. We were completely full to the brim…so we ordered dessert.
(Could you have resisted this? It had popping candy on the top!)
We shared their version of a Mr Whippy and ended our meal with some fresh peppermint tea.
Bonnie Gull has managed to strike the perfect balance between excellent quality and no-nonsense dining. The decor is understated, but it’s evident that every little nautical detail has been thought about carefully and executed perfectly – loved the scallop shaped door handles.
Oh I DO like to be beside the seaside.. and who knew it was only a 10 minute walk away from Farringdon Station.
p.s. I was originally going to call this post ‘Poppy’s got crabs.’ But then I thought, no.
Bonnie Gull Seafood Cafe
55-57 Exmouth Market
London EC1R 4QL