The Damien Hirst centre-piece really sums up this restaurant. A cock and bull preserved in formaldehyde is raised above the diners in the heart of the room. Quite the statement. Just like the menu, which offers nothing more than steak or chicken. How you feel about Damien Hirst will likely reflect how you feel about Tramshed. Either you’ll think he’s a genius who is at the forefront of modern thinking. Or you’ll think he’s a pretentious tosser who’s head is so far up his own arse that was he to own a restaurant he’d likely only serve a cock or a bull. I’m leaning towards the latter.
The starters came a couple of minutes after ordering them, a nice little hint that we weren’t expected to sit around for too long here. The Yorkshire pudding with whipped chicken livers (£3.95) is really good. The smooth chicken liver has an added crunch from a sprinkle of nuts on top, and the big stodgy Yorkshire is ideal for mopping it up.
The same can’t be said of the Moons Green beer stix (£4.00) which are basically a cross between a bread stick and a Peperami, and not as good as either. They just aren’t a starter, and I wouldn’t even be happy with them as a bar snack either. And to top it off they smelt like dog food.
The Cock ‘n’ Bull croquettes with chervil mayonnaise (£5.25) annoyingly only had 3 (there were 4 of us), and they didn’t really taste of cock or bull too much. These were passable, something that you’d nibble at a bar, but nothing more.
Three of us shared the Barn-reared Indian Rock with wild garlic sauce and chips (£25). The verdict on the chicken- well it was a roast chicken. Yes it was probably from a good farm and tasted better than the bone-dry shite they serve you at Nando’s. And for £25 with chips, which can feed 2-3 (not 3 men) it isn’t bad value. But it still is just a roast chicken. And the stuffing inside was unbelievably salty, as was the skin. The whole shock factor of serving it on a dish with a spike up its arse and feet intact was lost on our table. The waitress thought we were joking when we were fighting over who was going to get the feet. Apparently that’s not the done thing here. The feet are there to be outlandish, not to be munched on.
My friend had the Sirlon steak (£22.50 for 250g) which wasn’t a steak you’d remember. It was slightly overcooked and tough and the Béarnaise sauce needed more of a hit of tarragon. There’s certainly better ones in London for around the £15 mark.
The sides are over-priced as well. £6.95 for a large side of fries to share should be a salad bowl sized portion, but instead it could easily have been for one. The same applies to the scrumpy fried onions, which were just crispy onion rings, nothing more.
The bill was £35 a head which isn’t too bad for half a bottle of wine each. But given we had the house wine, and passed on dessert, and 3 of us shared a chicken, this could easily head towards the £50 a head mark if you splashed out a little more. The drinks list doesn’t match the reasonable prices on the menu, as most cocktails are around £10.50, and the cheapest beer is £5.50. If I was being especially critical it felt like eating in an art gallery, as the atmosphere was lost in the height of the ceilings. I was waiting for the volume to be amped up a notch, but it never happened. Without the Damien Hirst installation, or the fact that Mark Hix’s name is attached, it is quite simply an average restaurant in an impressive space. It just feels like a restaurant that is trying too hard to make a statement.If you’re being this paired back, then that roast chicken needs to be the best I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t rush back.
32 Rivington St, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3LX