Tramshed is Mark Hix’s contribution to Shoreditch, with the simple aim of delivering chicken and steak in an elegant manner. Indeed, the Damien Hirst installation, Cock and Bull, in the centre of the restaurant means that it is hard for any diner to forget the purpose of this converted electricity generation station. The previous sentence perhaps suggests that Tramshed is the most stereotypically Shoreditch place around, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that the striking artwork and rustic building is a ruse to cover up an otherwise normal restaurant: this is no normal restaurant.
Though aware of Tramshed, we perhaps would not normally have gone there – it stretches a little beyond a realistic student budget – however, my friend’s eagle-eyed spotting of a 50% discount on food (owing to it being the restaurant’s first week since it reopened) made it a no brainer. However, we did – after the meal – agree that it would easily have been worth full price.
What do they do?
If it was not already obvious enough from the preserved chicken and cow in a tank: Tramshed focuses on chicken and steak. Peculiarly, they do starters to share, as well as giant puddings (we indulged in the former, but were too full for the latter – maybe next time).
What did we have?
We started with the Whipped Butternut Squash with Goat’s Curd (accompanied by Grilled Flatbread) (£̶6̶.̶2̶5̶ £3.13), and the Pork Crackling and Bramley Apple sauce (£̶3̶.̶9̶5̶ £1.98).
The butternut squash and goat’s curd was very light, ultimately amounting to no more than a spread for the flatbread, but this was no great shame – it provided a tasty (and almost wholesome) beginning. The real treat, however, was the crackling.
The crackling was excellent. It managed to be a challenge, without risking a hefty dentistry bill, and provided for a ruder awakening than that offered by the butternut squash. The apple sauce was pleasantly odd – slightly dubious as to how apple sauce might be made impressive, I was glad to receive a surprising sour smack, which made the awakening from the crackling all the more abrupt.
We both followed this with the 28-day aged Glenarm Rib Steak (250g – £̶2̶0̶ £10) – naturally, we both had it cooked rare. All of Tramshed’s steaks come served with Chips, Béarnaise Sauce, and French and English Mustards.
The steak was absolutely fantastic. I never tend to go for Rib (if Rump’s on offer then I’m always happy with that), so perhaps it’s not the fairest of appraisals to make (i.e. perhaps I’ve been missing a trick all along), but we were in agreement that this was pretty special meat. At first, we thought it had been seasoned perfectly, but – having polished off every last morsel – ultimately came to the conclusion that it was perhaps a little too salty (particularly alongside the heavily salted chips, and our Salt and Vinegar Onion Rings). This might be owing to the fact that the steaks are aged in a Himalayan salt chamber, but the one improvement that we felt Tramshed could make would be to look holistically at each order and bear that in mind when seasoning the steak. We’re nitpicking, though – it was a great steak.
As for the sauces, we were a little less convinced. We thought it was good that 3 sauces came free of charge, but we thought the choices to be a little odd. Béarnaise sauce is a bit of a classic, fair enough; French mustard is quite a strong flavour (and this was particularly strong mustard), and it was overpowering – not something that was desirable in the context of such good steak; English mustard is perhaps more appropriate – it was tasty and definitely did add something. However, the usual suspects of peppercorn sauce and (in some form) blue cheese were nowhere to be seen on the menu at all. This struck us as surprising, not least because even if they were not to include them on the free trio then they would definitely make money with people ordering them separately. Nonetheless, when the sauces are free, there’s little complaint one can really have.
We accompanied our steaks with Salt and Vinegar Onion Rings (£̶6̶.̶9̶5̶ £3.48). These were exactly what it said on the tin. Lightly battered and tastily seasoned (though, unsurprisingly, adding to the salty theme of our main course), the onion rings were a delectable addition.
Alongside our meal, we both had the HIX IPA (500ml), served in chilled glasses. This was tasty enough, with a good bitter twang, but a bit pricey at £6.75 – that being said, we can hardly complain at the overall price for this meal.
Value for money: 5/5 – simply outstanding. It came to £21 plus tip (per head) for a memorable and filling two-course meal and a large beer.
Pretentiousness: 4/5 – they commissioned Damien Hirst to preserve a cow and a chicken in formaldehyde as the centrepiece of their restaurant.
Atmosphere: 4/5 – okay, the Cock and Bull thing is actually pretty cool. The restaurant was very busy for a Monday – we couldn’t get a table until 9pm – but this is unsurprising given the 50% offer. It made for a lively atmosphere, though, and service was still generally prompt (if a little slow to start with).
Tramshed was very impressive and, for the money, an absolute steal. We’d definitely return, and, although we couldn’t afford to go as a regular fixture, would still feel we were getting good value for money at the full price.