London Shell Co.
Sheldon Square, Paddington Central , W2 6PY
WLC Rank : 79
Glass from : £ 4.25 (125 ml)
BEST FORA haven from London’s hustle
Wines on tap, bespoke fizz and original choices
Colourful, sustainably inclined dishes
The semi-private room in the bow
“Things are ship shape and Bristol fashion here at London Shell Co.” says Harry Lobek, who operates two vessels from Paddington, both well stocked with wine.
Given the popularity of their first craft, the Prince Regent – home to London Shell Co – siblings, Harry and Leah Lobek were always going to need a bigger boat. Cue then the launch of sequel craft, The Grand Duchess, which previously acted as the unconventional marketing suite for adjacent penthouses. Unlike the Prince Regent, the Grand Duchess is permanently moored at Sheldon Square. And given the absence of an engine, the vessel feels especially spacious, boasting in the “Captain’s Table” to the fore, a semi-private room beyond a floor-to-ceiling wine display. Dining there on my visit was Lobek’s father, part of an intrepid crew who undertook a sailing sortie in another craft from Antigua to the Balearics – and will next embark on an around the world mission in four parts.
Quirkily, the wine list, which opens with John Masefield’s 1902 poem, “Sea Fever”, is organised by fish and crustaceans – although the concept goes beyond mere literal wine and food matching. Hence, under “A Pint of Prawns” expect “reds for passing the time” which are “light enough for drinking but still plenty to make a meal of”, such as nervy, ruby Vinho Verde (Anselmo Mendes) or the aromatic “Experimental Batch” EB42 Summer Lovin’ Pinot Meunier, Mac Forbes, Yarra Valley). And, honouring the mighty specimens of “Turbot” which are caught in Cornwall and reach up-to seven kilograms, expect “serious, decadent wines to impress your friends…” being “big boned with structure.” These may include thickly textured, expressive White Hill Chardonnay from Liquid Farm, and Solea Roagna. Other sections include “Cockles & Clams”, featuring Banyuls Blanc (Coume del Mas, Collioure) and “Departures”, where a 1990 Madeira is offered by-the-glass (H.M. Borges Sercial).
Dishes by head chef, Stuart Kilpatrick may include hake with borlotti beans, whitebait, which is best enjoyed with a “session-able Tourraine”, and an imposing surf and turf platter featuring half a juicy lobster and beef on the bone. Of biting at those bones, Harry says, “it’s the manliest thing to do!”
Blending Bacchus and Pinot Gris, house bubbles are produced in collaboration with Hampshire’s Hattingley Valley, which works niftily with oysters, served throughout the day.
By Douglas Blyde.