What: Parrillan is an outdoor restaurant in the Coal Drops Yard Development in King’s Cross where diners cook much of their meal themselves on charcoal-powered tabletop grills. Parrillan takes its name from parrilla, the Spanish word for a grill, and is loosely modelled on Ibizan restaurant Ca’n Pilot.
Who: Sam and James Hart and Crispin Somerville, who together oversee Harts Group. They already operate four venues at Coal Drops Yard: Barrafina, Casa Pastor, Plaza Pastor and The Drop, which total a not insubstantial 400 covers, with Parrillan - which is located on the top level of the development adjoining Barrafina - having the potential to add another 100. Parrillan is positioned as a more group-friendly spin-off brand to Barrafina with the latter’s executive chef Angel Zapata Martin having worked closely with the owners on the concept and developing the menu.
The food: The menu is very simple, opening with a selection of para picar (a word that sits somewhere between snacks and appetisers) to be eaten while the grill heats up. These include pan con tomate; charcuterie; and escalivada, a rather good Catalan-style selection of smoky roasted vegetables served with aioli. Items for the grill include peas in the pod, carabinero prawns, milk-fed lamb kidneys; and 50-day-aged beef picanha (a cut from the rump). Most items arrive lightly oiled and seasoned so all diners need to do is add it to the grill using long stainless tongs with the front of house team giving approximate cooking times for each item (all the meat and fish is high quality enough to be eaten raw, which pretty much sidesteps any food safety issues). Grilling at table is far less awkward operationally than one might expect due to clued-up, relaxed staff. The price point is slightly lower than Barrafina with only a few premium items on both the para picar and grill section north of a tenner. While it would be possible to eat at Parrillan quite cheaply, those that want the full experience and some of the more premium items - a single carabinero is £15 - will need to spend at least £40 on food per head.
The vibe: A few picnic benches and parasols this ain’t. The trio have made a hefty investment in the space, which has surprisingly agreeable views of the sensitively redeveloped surrounding area. The tables are made of the same type of marble as Barrafina’s famed counter, there’s comfy seating and trees planted in large concrete pots. The space is geared towards larger groups with just a handful of two-tops and - unlike Barrafina - it is possible to book. Around 60 covers are under cover with heaters and with 40 fully exposed to the elements.
And another thing: It chucked it down during the friends and family preview event last night (9 May), neatly illustrating the challenge of running an outdoor-only restaurant in this country. Harts Group’s solution to the unpredictable UK climate is to monitor the weather closely and not make use of the unsheltered space if there is any chance of a downpour. James is currently in negotiations with landlord Argent to add collapsible sides to the covered area to stop the guests at the edges getting wet.