Some venues are geared towards celebrations because they are a unique experience, they offer an exquisite environment. London Shell Co definitely falls into that category. On the night of our visit, there were no less than 5 birthdays; which was probably a record for them on a beautiful, yet narrow canal boat with limited seating.
The surroundings are most certainly romantic with shimmering candlelight, wide windows with incredible views of expensive houses along the canal as the boat travel from Little Venice to Camden Lock via Primrose Hill. However, be prepared for a social supper club type of vibe, as most of the tables are for 4 – 6 people. Thankfully, the couple sitting next to us was a constant source of sparkling conversation, which made up for the fact we didn’t opt for sparkling wine for the occasion.
How do we judge the food from the crew? Firstly you have to appreciate the extremely small size of the kitchen. They are never going to be able to compete with the multi-staffed, state of the art kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants, but there is an alluring, understated charm in what they can deliver. Most of the items on their set menu were chilled/room temperature due to the difficulties in serving many covers from a small kitchen environment.
Carlingford oysters had an elegant sweet taste although not as meaty as I would have hoped. It was interestingly paired with crab croquettes, which was one of the best I’ve tried with an intensely sweet aroma much like the taste from a crab bisque.
Dishes where I expected more were the cured sea trout, where you would expect the oily taste to last longer than say cured salmon and the cuttlefish braised in ink which was served at room temperature when it would have been tastier straight off the pan.
The cornish monkfish took a starring role that evening, the meat was sturdy and meaty and flavoured with addictive anchovy butter. A simple, yet effective dish which managed to keep diners glued to their table rather than gazing into the charming surroundings outside.