Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Tramshed, Shoreditch


How hard is it to make a Yorkshire pudding? It must be fiendishly difficult because I've yet to find one in London worth eating in nearly a decade of trying, and I've tried at some fairly expensive places. My grandma, back in the day, used to make a brilliant Yorkshire pudding, so I can only assume she was some kind of undercover culinary genius and was holding secret gastronomic masterclasses in between watching Countdown and checking her pools numbers. If the only Yorkshire pudding I've ever had in my life that was any good was cooked by an octogenarian in a small kitchen in Maghull then what's everyone else's excuse? My grandma is a better chef than most in London. That's the only explanation.



OK so yes, I am being facetious, I admit it. But come on guys, it's fried batter. If you can't make a good Yorkshire pudding then firstly you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself but more importantly, don't even try. And how to tell when you can't make a good Yorkshire pudding? Easy. It may be one of the following - cold, chewy, dry, tasteless and bready. Or, it will be all of these at once, like the Yorkshire pudding I had at the Tramshed last night.


It came with a teeny bowl of the fancy-sounding "whipped chicken livers" but which was actually a very ordinary and slightly bitter chicken liver pate, and one that had been left hanging around for a bit as well because it had started to discolour on the outside. Also as part of the trio of starters was a couple of thin slices of very ordinary smoked salmon topped with remarkably bland shaved fennel, and a plate of underseasoned beetroot puree with a few roast walnuts and boiled beets scattered on top. It is both my privilege and my curse as a food blogger that I can point to other restaurants that do most of the above much better, but perhaps it's unfair to compare. For £8 a head it was an interesting selection of starters, at least on paper; it was just a shame none of it tasted very good.


A 250g steak - there was no choice offered of cut, just "sirloin" so I don't know what happens to the rest of the cow - was actually pretty good. I liked the charcoal-char on the outside and it was nicely medium rare, so it just about justified the £20. Chicken though was bizarre, and I don't just mean the way it was served on a spike with its legs in the air. The flavour was incredibly chicken-y. That sounds like a good thing, but let me explain. It was far too chicken-y. Suspiciously chicken-y. A kind of super-concentrated stock-cube chicken flavour, chemically powerful and deeply unnerving. The same flavour infested the chips, which were nicely fried but had been treated, so we were told, in the "chicken dripping". "These taste," said my friend after chewing thoughtfully on one for a few moments, "like Walkers Roast Chicken flavour crisps". I'm not accusing the Tramshed of using stock cubes or artificial flavours of any kind, it just really, really tasted like they had.


Desserts were less troubling, but no better than the starters. A chocolate mousse was a one-dimensional lump of whipped chocolate and fine only in the sense that there aren't very many reasons why you wouldn't want to eat some chocolate. Apple pie and custard was equally uninspiring - the best you could say about it was that it was edible, so it did get eaten. But I wouldn't want to do it again.


Perhaps Mark Hix gaffs just aren't for me. I know he has his fans, and indeed a few people responded to my tweet about the disastrous Yorkshire pudding that theirs had been fine. Maybe some people would like their chickens to taste like they'd been dipped in a vat of Knorr as well, or their fries to taste like something from a packet. Maybe these places are more about the attitude, the atmosphere and the buzz than anything that ends up on a plate. But we honestly didn't enjoy ourselves at the Tramshed, and though that may have partially been due to the fact the room was baking hot (there's no air conditioning, and only a few lucky tables have fans directed towards them) mainly it was because most of what we ate veered between boring and bizarre and managed to cost £88 with only 3 glasses of wine. And for all those reasons, not least the terrible Yorkshire pudding, I don't think I'll be back.

4/10

HIX at The Tramshed on Urbanspoon

20 comments:

yeebot said...

Inconsistencies are rife it seems. Your steak looks very different to our very medium steak on our visit!

Hugh Wright said...

Think you've summed it up perfectly in one word there - boring. Yes I know low/no-choice restaurants are 'a thing' now (some guy wrote about them for Telegraph Online a couple of months ago I believe...)but I can, and do, cook and OK sirloin and a fantastic, non-Knorry roast chicken at home; why on earth would I cross town for and spend this sort of money on it? Oh that's right - I wouldn't.

Someone said to me recently, "Mark Hix's reputation writes cheques that his food can't cash" - sounds form this like Tramshed could be his biggest bounced cheque yet...

Alicia (foodycat) said...

I love Mark Hix in theory, but the only time I've eaten in one of his restaurants I was terribly disappointed. The chicken is weird.

Platter said...

Yes, not seeing much out of the ordinary here.

Perhaps MH's rep obviates the need for planning.

Or perhaps his team just felt the need for speed.

Platter said...

PS: the chicken looks like it requested permission to fly-by, then dive-bombed into your plate from a great height.

mrf0ster said...

That chicken is one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen on a food blog. Why not go the whole hog and leave the head on?

And agreed on the Yorkshire pudding, Chris. If you can't do one of those, you've got no right being in the kitchen of a Toby Carvery, never mind a gaff that charges those prices.

karohemd said...

PS: the chicken looks like it requested permission to fly-by, then dive-bombed into your plate from a great height.
...and was roasted on re-entry?

gina said...

the chicken looks like it saw the anus toilet signs at his farringdon outpost and died of mild shock.

bleurgh, not interested in this place

doesthebellyrulethemind said...

The Yorkshire, looks like it needs its last rights. A real shame because Mr. Hix knows more than most about food. Rabbit and Crayfish stargazy pie, Perry jelly with summer fruits with an elderflower ice-cream, Genius! His Great Britain book is legend. Shame about your meal. I hope he adjust things to his usual standard. Don’t knock Mr. Hix. His other restaurants champion some amazing regional produce and do it very well.

Pasta Bites said...

The chicken looks gross, the Yorkshire pudding wrong and I dnt know much about these myself.. I hated Hix Soho so I'm not even surprised ....!

Patrick said...

£25 for a chicken and chips in a restaurant seems like good value to me. But then if it doesn't taste good then it's not.

I've always wondered why someone hasn't opened a place like L'Ami Louis (http://foodsnobblog.wordpress.com/2009/01/11/lami-louis-paris/) over here, but with more London-friendly prices. It would clean up.

Anonymous said...

If i were to be picky, I'd say the steak didn't look well rested either. Tsk tsk. However Tramshed will no doubt land well with those Shoreditch types and be a grand success regardless

The Perfect Trough said...

I had a slightly better experience (blogged it also) - but having read other blogs, it seems very inconsistent.

I had a goodf laugh because I was half cut and not concerned about the food. However I agree with Hugh Wright - roast chicken is something most people can do or get very easily. It seems a struggle for a concept.

Gregory said...

I have thought Hix's scene was over valued for many many years. I just don't get it. On the 3 occasions I have darkened their door I have always found the food terribly underseasoned and overpriced.

Not worth the tram fare.

Anonymous said...

I think most of you have never been to Hix Restaurant, but all of you like to moan a lot. Shame not everyone can afford a visit to such one, shame any dumb ass can post its sweaty comments on internet.
All in all, pitiful bunch of underachievers.

Northern Snippet said...

I wish you would define the perfect Yorkshire pud.It seems to me the way people like them depends on what part of the country they're from.

Cesar Valverde said...

Am being taken there tonight, tho not much looking forward to it after this. Vamos a ver.

Does the adjective 'ordinary' really want qualification? In sucessive sentences?

Becs @ Lay the table said...

Despite being a farmer's daughter, I'm still finding the presentation of that chicken less than acceptable. Even in Yorkshire, many pubs still find it hard to provide me with a good yorkie - mostly overcooked on the top!

ginandcrumpets said...

That chicken is hilarious. It's like they want it to be as unappetising and hard to eat as possible. Proper stroke of plating genius.

Cherie City said...

If I were served that ghoulish looking chicken, I'd be tempted to hurl it back at them by its claws.