"A trip back is a must"Review Rating: Reviewed by T.A.O
It takes a special kind of dream to twin a coffee house and restaurant with its original that sits thousands of miles away in downtown Melbourne, but that describes the origins of Workshop Coffee (formerly St Ali). Having recently broken out on their own, the stylish Clerkenwell location is doing more than enough with its evening menu to reel in foodies and coffee pedants alike.
In an area full of ad agencies, designer houses and architect firms, the venue is aptly inspiring. Think bare brick walls, a faintly industrial theme and informal bar seating. This is spacious, aspirational dining with integrity. Some might choose to visit for the first floor restaurant in the evening, but the bar feels so at one with the layout of the place that it calls out and gets the guy.
Workshop’s menu is a concise collection of small plates, large plates and grazing dishes that explore a British take on tapas. From grilled quail to the potato, leek and gruyere tortilla, the small plates are a mix of bold, but accessible flavour. The pork belly sums up Workshop’s mentality. Three hunks of mushy meat covered by a crackling shell and smeared with oakwood apple sauce. Delicately arranged, yet a chunky morsel. Both salty and sweet,; balanced immaculately.
Look around and the rough edges carefully left to jut and crack by the considered design are clearly evident, but at Workshop the style doesn’t seem to be contradicted by the substance. A main of haddock, ginger and lemon grass fish cake has a deliciously crispy shell, but could have allowed a little more thought for the moisture inside. However, the poached egg crown put pay to those murmurs of discontent as the yoke ran to meet one of its finest combinations - haddock.
Bio dynamic wine is the buzz at Workshop and a tasting will tell you why. At £32.00 a bottle the Catherine Bernard red appeared (almost) to be a snip – the presence of zesty, blackberries fighting its case.
A dessert of warm ginger cake, raspberry mascarpone and toffee sauce was to be the one regret – in that there was no room for it. A trip back is therefore a must, and at around £70.00 for a meal for two with wine, it will be soon.
T.A.O reviewed Workshop Coffee Co on Mon 25 Jun 2012