It doesn't matter how long a Waddington-Flack creation pops-up for, you can count on its being a serious tour de force. The latest venture from the duo behind East London's Bistrotheque is Shrimpy's, a Latin American seafood restaurant, which takes up residence in the dramatic King's Cross Filling Station.
Perched on the edge of Regents Canal, the former disused petrol station has been given a makeover by award-winning young British architects Carmody Groarke, with whom Bistrotheque teamed up with for the transitory Studio East dining venture in 2010.
This being only a semi-permanent fixture, the work is largely cosmetic, but the results are glowing. That glow comes partly from the cinematic Ed Ruscha-esque roof signage, partly from the illuminated fiberglass walls surrounding the station, and it's this decoration that gives the Filling Station a landmark quality.
Within the walls, the erstwhile forecourt provides a social space; the petrol station kiosk has become Shrimpy's. The 50-cover diner style restaurant has the air of an upmarket bistro - all white linen and crystal glassware, with an injection of the tropics in the form of pineapple lamps and colourful wall doodles by Donald Urquhart and Jonathan Trayte. These reference Waddington and Flack's muse; a fictional spinster called 'Shrimpy' who they met on an imaginary road trip down the west coast of the Americas.
The trip also inspired the flavour of the menu, which was created by chef director Tom Collins. The signature soft shell crab and avocado burger commands the menu, though you'd struggle to slip up with what else is on offer; from veal hearts and Peruvian Ceviche to a bit of Skirt… chimichurri style.
We were tempted enough to join forces with David Waddington and Pablo Flack to welcome some of our local friends from the worlds of art, design and fashion, to toast Shrimpy's opening on a rare sunny evening last week. Chips and dips accompanied by Habanero Margaritas were enjoyed on the forecourt before we squeezed into the dining space to sample a starter of Ceviche with avocado, tomato and cucumber salad.
Mains of fried chicken, sweetcorn and red pepper polenta, and octopus with potatoes and paprika, were served with a Mendozan Sauvignon Blanc ('La Flor', Pulenta Estate, 2010). The all-Americas feast was topped of with poached quince, crème fraiche and almonds.
Those still milling at the end of the evening were served a very spirited tea by Waddington himself - a tea that, although poured from the spout of an elegant white teapot, had more than a hint of tequila and lime about it.
Shrimpy's is intended to last at least a couple of years- an aeon by pop-up standards but don't expect it to get much easier to land a table in that time.