– not another launderette but a laid-back place to eat and drink
Ultra-basic retro decor, quirky names and decent food and wine and speciality cocktails seems to be the recipe being built on by Urban Leisure Group in a slew of bar/restaurants springing up around the Capital. Barbican Life readers may well already be familiar with ‘Ask for Janice’ on Long Lane, near Smithfield Market, which has become a popular venue, local to the Barbican, for drinks, coffee and food – often in conjunction with websurfing on laptop computers using the wifi.
One of the latest creations of the Group is Coin Laundry in Exmouth Market, which just about comes into our ‘walking range of the Barbican’ criterion – well I walked there and it took about 20 minutes (and it was raining – devotion to duty!). No signs of dirty washing, despite the establishment title, but a large bright eating space (in spite of the gloomy weather) with plenty of tables (retro distressed look) and basic plastic/wood effect and steel (but reasonably comfortable) chairs to sit on.
We were there on a Friday lunchtime and perhaps it was not as busy as normal with the adverse weather keeping people chained to their offices, but there were a few tables occupied. Tables for two are a little on the small side, but as it wasn’t busy we took advantage of having two pulled together. Service was friendly and quick and while there was background music it wasn’t loud which was something of a plus point as often trendy bar/restaurants and loud music seem to go together these days.
We were presented with the All-Day menu (Coin Laundry also has separate Morning (breakfast), Bar and Brunch menus – the latter served on Saturdays and Sundays and which seems to be effectively a combination of the Morning and All Day menus).
My colleague asked how big the ‘small dishes’ on the menu were as was unsure whether to order a small dish plus a main to follow but luckily stuck to the ‘small’ grilled sardines and tomatoes on toast (£7) which turned out to be almost as large as the lamb chops, braised leeks and cottage cheese (£14) ‘large’ dish which I went for. There was a range of seven ‘small dishes’ priced from £6.50 to £8, three tempting looking salads from £9-£11.50 and seven ‘large’ dishes from £9.50 to £15. There were also three stuffed baps from £6.50-£9.00 the last one being a cheeseburger.
My colleague described her dish as being really good and more than adequate. As for my lamb chops they were chargrilled on the outside, but pretty rare in the middle – which is how I like them, so fine for me – but might not have suited some who might be turned off by rare meat. As I wasn’t offered the option of how I would like my chops cooked, this could have required the dish being sent back if I wasn’t happy with it. The combination with the braised leeks and, surprisingly to me, cottage cheese, worked really well. We also had garlic mushrooms as a side dish which tasted far better than they looked!
For dessert we shared the interesting sounding Pimms jelly with Granny Smith sorbet. The sorbet was delicious but the Pimms jelly was so packed with little bits of cucumber that it didn’t go particularly well as a dessert – at least with these clients. Other options on the Sweet menu sounded absolutely delicious but too packed with carbs like Yorkshire profiteroles and chocolate sauce (£5.50) or just too sugary for one who needs to watch these things.
So something of a mixed experience, but would I recommend it – yes as a casual place to eat and have a drink. It’s not gourmet food, but that’s not what Coin Laundry is about – just something of a fun destination perhaps more for the young and young at heart. It describes itself as a laid-back neighbourhood bar and restaurant serving up proper comfort food, 70s revival cocktails and a big fat slice of nostalgia, although those nostalgic for the 70s are probably too old to be the bar/restaurant’s target audience. Restaurant blurb goes on to say that it has a relaxed approach to eating and socialising – ‘whether you’re popping in for a drink, eating delicious things your mum used to make or playing kerplunk in the basement’ – yes like at Ask for Janice there’s a basement bar but rather bigger than that at its Long Lane sibling. It goes on to say that it is open for breakfast, all day eating and bar snacks with a focus on seasonal, British ingredients and encourages you to share, play games and remember the way things used to taste.
Coin Laundry is thus a good addition to the Exmouth Market vibe and will probably do well with the younger crowd looking for some good tasty food without having to splash out too much – the most expensive dish on the menu was a marinated bavette steak with onions at £15 – interesting and decently-priced cocktails (from £6-9) including some made with a sodastream machine – remember those? A good selection of beers is available and a small, but adequate, wine list from £18-£35 a bottle, many available by the glass at from £4.50-6.00.
Coin Laundry is at 70 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QP. Opening hours are Monday to Wednesday – 8:00am to 11:00pm, Thursday and Friday – 8:00am to 2:00am, Saturday – 9:00am to 2:00am and Sunday – 10:00am to 11:00pm. Further details and full menus are available on the bar/restaurant website: www.coinlaundry.co.uk/