The appropriately named Coal Vaults can be found in a Soho basement on Wardour Street. It provides shelter from the cold, with its low ceilings, candlelit alcoves, ‘homemade infusions’ (aka bespoke cocktails) and sharing dishes.
I went on a balmy October eve, refreshing myself with Domestic Bliss (£9) made from Quince Rum, carraway, cinnamon, sugar and egg white. On second thoughts, it was far more delicious than refreshing, with its boozy sweetness warming my cockles. Alongside this, there was surprisingly spicy Devilled Popcorn – a complimentary Trick or Treat?
From the fashionable open kitchen, Wild Mushroom Ragu (£8) was a huge hit. The fresh pasta hadn’t quite absorbed the sauce, but me oh my, those were some juicy fungi – each different in size and flavour. Equally, Sherry Brazed Pig Cheek (£3) was hearty and rich, reminding me of good countryside pub grub.
Potted Crab (£8.50) had respectably large flakes of meat, but the Pulled Rabbit (£8.50) was hiding down an overpowering hole of smoked black beans, sweetcorn, pineapple relish and avocado sour cream. Not that I found it unpleasant.
Dessert wise, I was in heaven eating Salted Flourless Chocolate Cake (£5) with its mint creme fraiche and toasted almonds, but found myself in limbo when it came to the Lemon & Olive Oil Cake (£5). It had a lively flavour, but was far too dry for me (I was expecting wet wet wet).
At the end, the £100 bill took us by surprise. Yes we’d had a cocktail, shared a bottle of house white and devoured a belly full of dishes, but the price felt excessive. Nevertheless, I’m giving Coal Vaults a LLE Rating of 7/10. It’s a great Halloween Haunt, pre-Bonfire Buffet or Winter Warmer, and I can’t wait to try more of its creations in the not so distant future.
Coal Vaults, 187b Wardour Street, Soho W1F 8ZB