by Katie Service
Coal Vaults is one of those amazing Soho venues which is deceptively large. On entering the brand new underground cocktail establishment (once you’ve been greeted by their pet, martini drinking skeleton) you are initially worried that you won’t get a table. The place looks packed to the rafters and not just that, it looks tiny. Happily the Coal Vaults, which was previously a Korean BBQ Den, previously a sex shop, previously a Victorian coal storage cellar, is a wondrous cavern of little rooms and mini alcoves, which can seat a surprisingly large amount of people.
Fitted with a long bar and a particularly edgy looking barman named Jerome, the cocktail list is genuinely interesting. The Manager slash owner, Martin ‘Simo’ Simpson, recommends choosing your food first so that he can match your cocktail to your food – a great way of steering you away from the safe-bet-mojito and towards something with a little more je ne sais quoi like the cassis infused gin cocktail that comes with a side of Prosecco (because you’re not double parked, you’re just drinking in tandem. Nice.)
The food menu follows the au courant trend for mini sharing plates and I would advise if you are four people or more ordering one of everything. Even if you think you don’t want the Pulled Rabbit with Smoked Black Beans, you do. If you only want something to nibble on, go for the Bombay Chips with roast tomato, mango and lime chutney over the Charred Courgette salad – there’s a bit more to it. But please, and I beg you, please leave room for the Gluten free Flourless Chocolate Cake. Baked daily on site, this indescribably delicious salted chocolately piece of heaven, has already earned itself a book full of one-liner testimonials that cannot be repeated in polite society.
One member of my table sat in silence after her first mouthful of said chocolate cake. After a good seven seconds she looked up into the eyes of Martin ‘Symo’ Simpson and, in a tone of sheer desperation, begged him to ‘live with me and make this cake every day’. Hopefully Coal Vaults, which opened two weeks ago, will avoid the high turnover rates prone to Soho establishments.
If the cocktails fail, which I highly doubt, their next venture should one hundred percent be a cake bakery.
Coal Vaults 187b Wardour Street.