THE COW + CHICKEN
THE TRAMSHED / LONDON
6-8 Garden Walk / London EC2A3EQ / T : 020 77490478 /
This is a project from restaurateur Mark Hix, a man whose previous offerings (including the Soho institution Hix) have managed to appease both gastronomes and seasoned daters. At Tramshed dramatic design is king and how better to play this card than with a formaldehyde chicken and cow (Damien Hirst of course) hanging from the warehouse ceiling. Once you’ve taken this in move through a spacious, light room with simple wooden tables in the middle and marginally more cosy banquette seating on the side. The place is by no means achingly romantic, serving either steak or roast chicken by the kilogram, with the latter arriving feet in tact and mounted on a spit. Whilst undeniably impressive, this is more a date choice for those who want to appear more edgy and cultured than they really are, making amends for the boozy first and second dates spent in a dark Soho cocktail den.
This isn’t the place for veggies, nor is it the place for people who are precious about animal fats and waistlines. Following the new trend of restaurants that only serve one or two things, you should opt for the chicken over steak, mostly because there are a plethora of excellent steak places in London but relatively few restaurants known for their roast chicken. Share a chicken between two at a very reasonable £25, insanely good chips and gravy included. Whilst the trio of starters are a bargain at £7.50 for the set, they are not appealing enough to risk filling yourself up on (Yorkshire pudding and pate). Save yourself for the simple and excellent desserts; warm apple pie and custard, strawberries and cream. Drinks-wise, the cocktails hover around the £15 mark but are potent and very adventurous, particularly a chicken consume and vodka shot that tastes like a refreshing take on the Bloody Mary.
Food aside, what you really came here for was to see the Damien Hirst cow and bask in its kitsch splendor. Shamelessly theme the date by preceding the meal with a stop off at the new Hirst exhibition in the Tate Modern. Unless your date is a complete philistine, they’ll see the link and appreciate your attention to detail. Gimmicks aside, this is the date to break your pattern of binge drinking and west/central London pursuits and take things down a notch. Give any reckless groping a miss and focus on good meaty conversation, avoiding mentions of my work, my home, my life. Look around you, comment on the art, the setting, the food, and externalise the hell out of this situation. Try and forget bedding them for the moment and get to grips with how they think/feel/whatever. Try and be insightful and, if you can’t be that, be a bloody good listener.
After the initial thrill of the art, you’ll think the place a little over hyped. But you meet the power tribe.
0. You may not be getting sex out of this date but allow other elements of romance to flourish. Look for hints of common interests, shared humour, similar tastes and the potential for a real friendship to form, well after the passion and perversion have faded.