Chicken Kiev strikes back: seventies style restaurant opens in Clerkenwell

Exmouth Market’s new eatery revives retro favourites

The humble Chicken Kiev

It’s good news for fans of retro party food. Prawn cocktail, trifle, and 1970s favourite, Chicken Kiev, are all back in vogue at new restaurant and bar Coin Laundry, opening in Exmouth Market later this month. The all-day restaurant caters to a growing demand for old-school British comfort food.

Rather than copying the original dishes, the menu breathes new life into well-worn classics. The signature dish, Chicken Kiev, is made with hand foraged wild garlic and a secret bread-crumb blend. ”We’re taking 70s and 80s style food and giving it a modern spin”, says Prue Randall, training manager for restaurant and bar operator Urban Leisure Group, which owns the restaurant. As a gimmick, a ‘Kiev Counter’ will count down the number of Chicken Kiev servings left in the kitchen.

The retro theme continues at the bar. A SodaStream is going to play a crucial role in creating a selection of fizzy cocktails and soft drinks. The bar will also see the reappearance of kitsch classics the Grasshopper and the Snowball in updated versions.

Spread over two floors, the interior is a playful riff on 80s kitsch. The basement space is modeled on a retro common room, complete with comfy couches, board games and a vintage pinball machine. “We’d like to create a community feel, a place where people can hang out all day,” says Prue Randall. The all-day menu is split into morning, all-day and bar snacks, and offers everything from baps to fruit salads.

But why revive seventies and eighties’ cuisine from its slumber? To Prue Randall, retro fare holds immense appeal. “It’s food that we like personally. It’s comfort food,” she explains. “[As restaurateurs] we want to steer away from pretentious food — small plates for big money — and return to simple, proper food”.

London-based lifestyle journalist Kaye Holland says the timing is right for retro themed restaurants. “It’s pretty grim economic times still. Everyone just likes the idea of comforting childhood favourites,” she says. The retro trend is all about nostalgia, Holland adds. “People want the sort of the dishes their mum made, but haven’t got the time to rustle up these meals in their own kitchens.” Coin Laundry will appeal to people who can remember the classics, but also to young professionals who are interested in trying new trends, says Holland.

The restaurant will be located at Exmouth Market, a gastronomic hotspot teeming with quirky independent eateries. “I think Coin Laundry is going to be a great fit for the area”, Kaye Holland says. Aspiring to build a community around its brand, the restaurant plans to host regular events such as book clubs, pop-up shops and club nights.

Coin Laundry is the latest venture from Urban Leisure Group, which already operates seven bars and restaurants across North, Central and West London. Their other venues include the Graphics, a Soho bar specializing in gin, and the Elgin, a coffee and craft beer bar. “Every venue has a unique theme,” says Prue Randall.

Retro is having a ‘moment’ on the London restaurant scene, says Kaye Holland. The simple fare of bygone eras strikes a chord with Londoners. “Lots of restaurants offer quite complicated dishes, and I do think there is a growing interest in simpler food,” she says.

Coin Laundry opens November 23 at 70 Exmouth Market.

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