Friday, 14 June 2013

The Filling Station (a.k.a Shrimpy's)

I’ve always hated that all too familiar feeling of being judged for being drunk, chain-smoking my second packet of Malboro Reds and cooking on an open fire in a petrol station. Fortunately for me, being blessed with a near total misunderstanding of the concept of self preservation, I spend my holidays in crippled former Yugoslav republics where such behaviour is far more quotidian. 

For the rest of you, who I know have been dying to drink up and light up in a petrol station, The Filling Station (a.k.a. Shrimpy’s) is perfect. Of course, I’m a pretty cool guy so I think that The Filling Station lost a lot of its rough around the edges, ‘you might die here’ charm that us east London types love when it started serving prosecco and seafood instead of diesel oil. Then again, I don’t get a vote because half the stuff I drink may well be unleaded petrol and I wouldn’t know the difference.

To clarify, I really hope that nobody reading this genuinely considers themselves edgy enough to consider their local Texaco garage a good place to party. Health and safety, the criminal justice system, GCSE chemistry and the most basic of human survival instincts dictate that there are probably better places to spend your Friday night. One of those places is Shrimpy’s behind Kings Cross station. On the canal just off York Way, the forecourt of this former petrol station has been turned into a bar and grill which is sunny, spacious, airy and, most importantly, nothing like the Cleveland-dungeonesque basement bars we usually review. This makes it perfect for all of you engaging in our national pastime donning shorts and t-shirts and pretending you’re not cold.

In the interests of thoroughness I should mention that the Filling Station’s refurbishment began with the opening of Shrimpy’s restaurant in the former service station shop. I can’t tell you much about it because, as women often like to remind me, I don’t deserve nice things so the nearest I got to the restaurant was the toilet it shares with the forecourt bar. That was very nice though. I particularly liked the anti-heroin lights.

Now a quick word about the forecourt bar. You may find that it takes a very long time to get served. If this is the case you’ve probably fallen into the trap as most of the other people at this bar fall. You’ve seen the long single file line waiting for the bar, forgotten everything you ever knew about anything, decided that you are in fact an american tourist, assumed that this is how bars work now and joined the back of the queue. Don’t worry you’re not the only one. Fortunately I’m here to remind you that you’ve been in a bar before and this is patently not how they work. Just walk straight to the front and get served almost instantly. That’s what we did but then again most people hate us so swift service could be seen as something of a pyrrhic victory.

Once you’ve made your way to the front of the queue via whichever is your preferred route you’ll get your first glimpse of the food and drink menu. Somebody with more lyrical talent than me once said, ‘variety is the spice of life’. The clever folk at Shrimpy’s have come up with the compelling counterpoint of, ‘no it isn’t shut up’. The food menu is limited to meat or vegetable tortas, corn on the cob or a seafood bucket. Childhood memories of singing ‘there’s a hole in my bucket’ and 4am trips to KFC have given me a vague understanding of what a bucket is but what the seafood is I have no idea. This isn’t Mr Shrimpy’s fault as I never bothered to ask and I had just eaten a pizza so I didn’t order it. I also have no idea what a torta is. 

The drinks menu is equally simple: lager; cider; margarita; prosecco from a tap. In a round about way I mean this as a complement because beer that doesn’t say Carling on the side confuses me and the choice of whether I want garlic or chili sauce on my kebab is often too much for my pretty little head to worry about.

You get the point. You’re not going there to drink cocktails out of unicorn horns, discuss the relative merits of Tia Maria over Kahlua and wow your friends with how the extract of whogivesafuck has really brought out the flavour of your cocktail. You’re going there because it’s cool, it’s different and you’re so desperate to show off you’ve resorted to reading this blog. You’ll find a great place to enjoy the sun and look out over the canal with a beer discussing important  questions such as: ‘if I’m on a barge am I ipso facto a pirate?’; ‘can river people shrink your head?’; and ‘if that’s a seagull where is the sea?’.

King's Cross Filling Station 
Goods Way 
N1C 4UR 

020 8880 6111

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