ith its sky-blue bar, wicker pendant lighting and generous leafy greenery, I get instant Mykonos vibes from Warehouse, despite the fact I’ve just stepped off the rather less sun-speckled streets of London. Once settled, my oldest friend and I appreciate reclaimed rugs, a colossal wooden kitchen-style unit and woven wall hangings too, which result in an eclectic but cosseting combination of beach-chic and snug-club – perfect for boosting one's mood during the long wait until warm-enough-to-ditch-coats weather. A special mention for the Delft tiles on the walls of Warehouse, hand-painted by Anton Bosch, I discover, and beautiful, hand-painted plates by South African potter Antoinette du Plessis.
But first, on this blustery Friday evening, once we are warmly welcomed out of the chill: drinks. My companion pronounces her The New Fashion whisky cocktail as quite simply the best she’s ever had, so it deserves top billing. They say: Old-fashioned in style, modern in the making. She says: A rich, heavenly, truffled spin on a classic. White truffle is its unexpected star ingredient and the brainchild of house mixologist Walter Pintus; a man who sounds like something of a magician, being able to create an infusion from blended coffee grounds and transform squeezed oranges into sherbet. Other cocktails are similarly inventive; the Gimlet features foraged sea herbs and there’s a martini infused with oyster shells. My Champagne Bride is not at all sparkling; rather, fresh, more-ish and chilled well beyond the call of duty thanks to the largest ice cube that could fit in the glass.
Warehouse is part of The Conduit private members’ club and takes its name from the original Covent Garden fruit and veg warehouse, whose origins began here in the 19th century. Renowned Head Chef Brendan Eades – formerly of Silo London and Aquavit – has been inspired by the site’s history to create a menu featuring traditional preservation techniques and seasonal, heritage produce. We applaud the Warehouse team for an approach we hope becomes more mainstream; their work is always mindful of the seasons, they use whole ingredients to their full potential and make sure carefully-sourced produce is presented ‘in an imaginative and accessible way’. We’re on board.
The menu details 12 first-class suppliers, for everything from dairy, grains, salt and vinegar to hemp, chocolate, vanilla, vegetables, oysters and truffles, which we scan while we wait for our red kuri pumpkin skin wafers with sour hemp ricotta and wild herbs plus home-baked sourdough with creamy butter hailing from Somerset. It’s a blow when I knock one of the giant wafers off the table; it’s good enough that I (briefly) consider picking it up. Of five starters, two are vegan, four are dairy-free and two are gluten-free so particular diets are decently catered for. The mackerel is as prettily presented as cured mackerel can be, with bright, sharp pickled ginger contrasting with a creamy herb sauce. I receive a generous mound of salted ribbons of beetroot and dig to unearth quinoa, apple and seaweed.
Again with the main courses, two are vegan, three are dairy-free and five are gluten-free, making it a damn sight easier to eat out – successfully – with your milk-avoiding cousin or vegan partner. I am not a vegan but the sound of a potato dish with black garlic, alliums, Korean chilli flakes and three-cornered leeks appeals. Yes, I had to ask what alliums are – a unique family of plants, e.g. garlic and onions and those three-cornered leeks, used in traditional medicine and everyday food – and yes, they are delicious when crisped up and sprinkled on top of large new potatoes languishing in a green sauce that is garlicky enough to invoke a (good) gasp. Meat-eaters, never fear: there’s beef for two to share and a new pork dish with wild garlic and barberries (a bit like lemony dried fruit); tender and silky, perfectly pink with a rich, just-sweet-enough ginger-laced sauce. When it comes to sides, try the cabbage. It may not sound promising but my friend raves, “This is redefining cabbage. Deliciously charred with a great crunch, the slight tang offset immaculately by the miso sauce which lightly coats it.” High praise indeed.
Carefully judged portion sizes at Warehouse mean that we arrive at our final course almost, but not too, full. The ice cream sandwich is more refreshing and less indulgent than the name suggests if you fancy a lighter option: pretty pink rhubarb (taking a starring role on the menu thanks to currently being very much in season and therefore on-trend at Warehouse), rice amazake and sorrel ice cream are layered between light wafers. At the other end of the scale is my choice: a 70 per cent dark chocolate tart with rosehip curd and vanilla ice cream. Indulgent, and a sweet end to a feel-good night.
Warehouse at The Conduit London, 6 Langley Street, WC2H 9JA, warehouselondon.com