Pub wisdom goes that “the English don’t like the French and the French don’t like the English”. This ridiculous belief has been fuelled almost entirely by enraged men who were served a demi-pinte on holiday. The fact this archaic mentality still exists is a shame because if it didn’t, we’d probably have all sorts of excellent Anglo-French hybrids. Things like double-decker tube trains or pubs serving French bistro food. This is what The Coach offers us - the pub, not the train. A glimpse into what could, and should, be the norm.
The Coach is a proper pub in Clerkenwell serving proper French bistro food. This is a place that gives two massive fingers to the idea that pubs should only be serving scratchings and Scotch eggs. Sure, that idea has been gone for a while now. It’s been replaced by wings, calamari, and pretty much anything that has the solidity to be served on a chopping board. The Coach farts in the general direction of these pub food limitations. This is a bright and woody pub-cum-bistro where you can drink and eat extremely well. Take your mum, your dad, your brother, your lover, your dog, your boss.
A menu that causes you to have FOMO before you’ve ordered is usually the sign of a good menu. Starters like steak tartare or fresh prawns with cocktail sauce read like a greatest hits playlist, and that’s because they are. They’re classically delicious. The prawns are fresh and meaty, the tartare is chunky and packed with capers and cornichons. This isn’t food you’ve never tasted before. This is food you’ve most likely had lots of times and lots of places. It’s food you know you like, done better. Some of the things here are so much better that you begin to fear, like a teenage holiday romance, that you may never have anything like this again. Gnocchi in wild garlic oil is mouth-watering. You’ll lie in bed thinking about it. We have done ever since they took it off the menu. Other things are just wonderfully comforting, like grilled rabbit leg or roasted sweet potatoes with chickpeas and tomatoes. This is the food you imagine will come out when you start cooking in preparation for a dinner party. Providing your imagination is as far-fetched as ours.
It’s hard not to enjoy yourself at the Coach because it’s just so straightforward. The pubbish environment means only a wrong’un wouldn’t be comfortable, and its separate spaces allow you to put yourself where feels best. A celebratory lunch? Book a table in the downstairs dining room, looking out onto the garden. You could be next to table of suits on the left and toddlers in tow on the right. Fancy somewhere of the leather chair and gold framed paintings variety? Head upstairs for a fancy-ish date or a classy catch-up. This is a no stress, no brainer kind of place.
Like everything involving the English and the French, one side will claim to be superior over the other. The beauty of The Coach is that neither the environment nor the food would work quite as well as it does without each other. For us, this is truly the best of both worlds.
Isn’t all garlic white? We don’t know. What we do know is that this really quite good. A certified bowl licker.
If you like prawns then you’ll like these a lot.
This is really tasty. It’s packed full of onion and capers and other very nice bits.
The sort of dish that will have you ordering sub-par gnocchi for at least the next year because you really, really want it to be like this.
This is the epitome of pub-bistro food. A tender rabbit leg, smokey bacon, mustard sauce and a few beans. You can’t not enjoy this.
A very tasty plate of veg. It’ll make you rethink what on earth you’re not doing with the same ingredients.
If you’re in the area just stop in for a half and some chips. Even if you’re not in the area, you should do this.
With so many delicious dishes, this onglet is both a bit nothing-y and bit too chewy.
We’ve got ourselves another plate licker.
Guys, it’s vanilla custard with caramel on top. Of course it’s delicious.