Also known as ‘HIX at The Tramshed’, this newest offering from Mark Hix – in my humble opinion – outstrips all his other ventures that I’ve tried. Hix was formerly the head chef of the Caprice group, but went out on his own in 2008 and now has seven restaurants bearing his name. The Tramshed is built into a run down, you guessed it, tram shed; well the electrical shed that powered the nearby system anyway. Trams appeared in Shoreditch back in the 1920s just when motor cars also were beginning to take over from carriages. The Trams lifespan was a relatively short one and the shed fell into disuse because of its incognito location in a small back street.
Of course that makes it the ideal spot to open a hip, new steak and chicken restaurant. One that retains all the original tiling and beams to give it that industrial era feel of girders and rivets. Tramshed opened in 2012 on the back of Hix’s success with his Chop Houses across the West End. The concept behind Tramshed is a very simple one, steak and chicken dishes served up to share. The restaurant features Mighty Marble Himalayan salt dry-aged steak from hand selected cows and free-range chicken from Swainson House Farm in Lancashire.
Once you’ve found the place, tucked away as it is in a little back street alley, you’re immediately drawn to the two centerpieces of the restaurant, two works of art by Damien Hirst. The first is a massive formaldehyde sculpture of a cow with a chicken on its back, in a holding tank of the blueish liquid on top of a massive stel pedestal in the middle of the restaurant. The second is a cartoon representation of a cow and chicken on the wall at the very rear of the restaurant up on their raised dining/lounge area – I’ll be forgiven for thinking it looks like a Ren and Stimpy work? It’s Damien Hirst though, so I guess it’s probably worth quite a bit more than a Ren and Stimpy original!
Along the right side of the restaurant from the from is the huge bar. The first half of which is food prep and the second half is where they whip up some truly tasty cocktails and drinks. The restaurant fills up pretty rapidly from 7pm, even on a Monday. It’s a mix of business dinners, casual colleague meals, and friendly groups – everything from suits to t-shirts and everyone fits in.
On the staff’s recommendation, I ordered the 1 kilogram Porterhouse. 1000g of monster steak comprised of the fillet and sirloin sitting each side of the bone. For the Americans among you, that’s 2.2 lbs or over 35 ounces! Don’t worry, I didn’t tackle this beast alone. I had the help of two friends, but chosen for their smaller appetites, it’s all about strategy going into this!
The steak was served a perfect, pink and juicy medium rare and carved at the table by a steady hand. It arrived on a massive chopping board accompanied by fries and unlimited béarnaise and mustard sauces. The beef at Tramshed comes from Shorthorn, Hereford and Aberdeen Angus breeds, hand-picked from the Swainson House Farm in Lancashire as I mentioned earlier. Despite the variety in breed, the one thing they all share is dry aging in a Himalayan salt chamber. I don’t know what that is, but it sounds magical, mystical, and fantastic.
Aged steak is unique the the shades of pink and the flavor profiles that one gets. You can see in this picture to the left that the pink is that dulled pink that you get from dry aging, not a bright red that you’d have from an un-aged cut of beef. It results in an absolutely sumptuous steak and my friends and I were left fighting over the bits left on the bone.
Now I’m primarily a ribeye man, going for that nice ribbon of fat in the middle cooked to a medium level to melt it smoothly into the surrounding meat. But I gotta say, a Porterhouse is a perfect sharing cut at Tramshed. The Fillet offers a less flavorful, but more melt-in-your-mouth texture and the sirloin packs a punch of flavor with its ribbon of fat and more bite. When the judges scorecards were added up, the Sirloin portion prevailed as the favorite of the table. At £75, the 1000g portion easily served three and I believe it’s worth the price. It’s steak, unsullied by anything fancy, just straight to the point!
The Tramshed also serves a standalone Sirloin among other cuts like the Rib steak, Rib-on-bone, and a Chateau steak. Their menu also features a ground rib steak burger for £16.95 with chips. I’ll have to save that one for another time! The other mainstay of their menu are the whole roast chickens – for £27.50, you and a friend or two will get a whole roasted, barn-reared Indian Rock chicken. I normally don’t go out of my way to talk about chicken dishes, but this one is so stripped down and to the point that it’s cool to show you the picture.
It’s served “butts-up”, feet and all with a bowl of chips and side salad. The chicken is again from the Swainson House Farm and comes stuffed and with a dripping catcher so that you don’t lose a drop of that au jus for your chips!
Sides and starters are all seasonal and will run you between £3-£7.50. I’ve got to recommend that no matter what main you get, order yourself a bowl of Tramshed’s salt ‘n’ vinegar onion rings. They are crisp and fluffy little beer-battered delights that won’t stick around long once everyone has tried a ring. The onion rings came alongside the steak and chips and were laid to waste within minutes.
I must digress to speak quickly about the starters. Again, designed to be shared, I think the prices were about right for these little samplers. From top left, the buttermilk chicken wings with “holy fff… sauce” – the sauce may look calm and mayonaisey, but trust me, it’s f*ckin spicy. Then the Moyallon pork crackling with brambly applesauce and perfect salty and sweet crunch – not for the feint of tooth! Lastly, the cock’n’bull croquettes with a tartar-isn sauce. All were priced from £3.95 to £6.00 which is very reasonable – and all were quite tasty in their own unique way.
The desserts are quite decadent as well and we had to try one, purely for research purposes of course! We ordered the salted caramel fondue with donuts and marshmallows. Hold the marshmallows please, which Tramshed was happy to do and compensate us with additional donuts. At £14.50, three of us shared 12 donut pieces, which we lavished in the decadent salted caramel. I’m not sure how I managed all of it, but one must persevere in the face of adversity.
I walked away happy, well-fed and not overwhelmed by pompous clientele or stuffy, dark surroundings. The Tramshed is simplicity done really well…and done, well, in a shed. You can visit them at 32 Rivington St, EC2A 3LX or check out their website here.