Coal Vaults, a subterranean venue situated on Soho’s bustling Wardour Street, will open on 26 August, marking the first foray into dining for Martyn Simpson and Felix Leuschner.
The duo enlisted the services of friend Magnus Reid from The Rooftop Caféto consult on the food offering, with the kitchen operation being spearheaded by James Knox Boothman, who previously worked at Grub at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.
Boothman’s small-plate menu will feature ingredient-led cuisine, using seasonal produce. Dishes will include a five-hour shoulder of lamb cooked in hay and lavender served with caper, mint and spiced anchovy couscous (£9); and seared scallpes with black pudding, cider sauce and celery salted apple crisps (£8).
Every dish on the menu has been listed with a cocktail to match. Jerome Slesinski, formerly of the Unpackaged bar in Hackney, will oversee the restaurant’s adjoining bar, with a number of home-infused blends along with a large selection of old-world wine and beer from local breweries.
The development of Coal Vaults has become somewhat of a personal project for Simpson, who has been carrying out the majority of building work through his other company, Griffin Construction.
“This has been something I’ve wanted to get into for a while but it’s very hard to translate from building into restaurants,” Simpson told BigHospitality. “I’ve been down here building and designing everything myself. A lot of other people were put off by what this place looked like, but I was able to see the space in a different way and had a good idea of what we could do with it.
“We’re in the middle of Soho but we’ve got 1200 sq.ft of underground space. People can get away from the bustling crowds - it has a really local feel to it. And it’s starting to look incredible. When we get people down here I’m sure they will want to come back.”
Originally used for storing coal in the early 19 century, the space has been restored to its former glory using materials from copper, timber, steel, and old London stock brickwork. Coal Vaults will have a ‘raw’ feel to it, offering five separate vaults for private dining (three hold 6-8 people and two hold 10-12 people) as well as an intimate bar and dining room with a total capacity for 100.
Speaking of the potential to open more restaurants in the UK or abroad, Simpson was keen on the idea. “We are definitely thinking of expanding but I want to keep it as independent as possible,” he said. “We want to do one in Soho and then another in London.
“I live in the middle of Shoreditch and I’m going to be looking to see how this area changes - If it continues improving then we might well do something here. Ultimately I would love to take the idea to New York and do a couple over there as well, that’s my retirement plan.”
Coal Vaults will open at 187b Wardour Street on 26 August.