Stranded on a cool coast

COAST; 26b Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London W1A 4SW. Tel: 0171 495 5999 Open Mon to Sat: lunch 12-3, dinner 6-12. Average price for three courses pounds 35- pounds 40 All credit cards except Diners

THERE is a sort of cool a Pulp Fictiony, androgynous, American, Calvin Klein adverty type of cool which is marvellously hip just now, but which you could only really get to grips with if you were, like, 20, and spent a lot of time hanging out with Quentin Tarantino and sulking against a white wall in a grey vest and pants next to Kate Moss. The Atlantic Bar and Grill, in Piccadilly Circus, has quite a lot of this "with it" feel, as does owner Oliver Peyton's newest restaurant, Coast, which opened in Mayfair this summer.

You have to undergo stringent coolness testing, though, before you get in. Set in a former car showroom in Mayfair's opulent Albe-marle Street, Coast's frontage is made entirely of glass and it is not immediately obvious which bit of glass is supposed to be the door. It is easy, therefore, to end up lunging hopefully against different panes, under the gaze of the cool diners within, like a big confused pigeon.

After a while I managed to catch a waiter's eye, and mouth "Where is the door?", which pointed me in the right direction, but still it was not a very stylish way to begin. Once inside, a woman behind a lectern gestured me to the bar where my friend, she said, was waiting. At the bar, though, there was neither friend to greet nor stools to sit on, just some bare walls to sulk against. When my friend Richard appeared we sulked together for a bit, then wandered, feeling foolish, back to the lady and asked if we could sit down now.

When you think of all the possibilities for fine dining surroundings romantic candlelit nooks, chandeliered opulence, Finnish or Bavarian themes it may one day seem odd that so many of the poshest London restaurants in the Nineties were white spaces with bare floors and spot lighting. Accounts of Australian Marc Newson's design for Coast suggested much more excitement. "Both organic and futuristic, translating boyish en-thusiasms for surf culture, aeroplanes, Aston Martins, space exploration and the work of Buckminster Fuller" was how one design critic enthused over it. Picture our puzzlement, then, to look round at a big, bare-walled space with spot lighting and a wooden floor. Of course, it's all in the detail, love, as any designer will tell you. The spotlights were bulging out of bulbous lumps in the ceiling which could easily have been saying "surf", "the eyes of space aliens" or "the eyes of Buckminster Fuller". And in the basement a great white funnel containing a green rubber staircase rises in an unbroken curve from the floor, like the stalk of a giant mushroom. The floors there curve up into the walls in the same seamless way, which is disconcerting when you go down to the loos, particularly since Coast's enthusiasm for understated signing is continued, making it easy to end up in the kitchen instead of the toilets.

East Coast, West Coast, Australian Coast. Coasting through outer space you could have spotted all of them if you'd had enough to drink. There were none of the celebrities, or elderly men with hookers, you'd expect in a more traditional Mayfair restaurant, but neither were there lots of grumpy young people on drugs in grunge outfits and crew cuts. Instead, the words which sprang to mind with the clientele were "preppy" and "rich". The food, from chef Stephen Terry, formerly with Marco Pierre White, is stylish and tasty. With all manner of seared fish and grilled vegetables, it has a Californian mood with eclectic influences: here a bit of Chinese, there a touch of Italian peasant. The service was attentive and perfectly timed on a busy evening.

I started with Bavarois of goat's cheese, served with roasted tomatoes, which was a good, creamy mix. Richard declared his starter, a mille feuille of marinated tuna fish with crisp taro root, soya and sesame, a taste explosion which was saying something for someone with an impaired sense of taste and a bad cold. He thought it "very neatly arranged, with all its spices delicate and idiosyncratic to the point that someone with hay fever might find alarming". He did point out, though, that it only had three poppadom-like crispy layers between the fish, so it was actually only a trois feuille, which made us worry about the bill.

A lot of posh restaurants these days seem to be getting away with sticking a pasta dish alongside the confited rabbits and sea basses, charging an astronomical sum for it, and turning out something you'd be disappointed with in Cafe Pasta. For my main course, then, as a test in revenge for the invisible door, I esch-ewed Roasted Rump of Lamb with Aubergine Tart and Couscous and ordered a plate of Linguine at pounds 12. Ha! Sure enough, the Linguine, albeit truffled, with roquette pesto and marinated field mushrooms, was soggy and overcooked. pounds 12 indeed. Bloody outrageous if you ask me. My friend, however, scor-ed again with Soup Noodle of Honey Roasted Duck with Thai Spices and Choi Sum , which showed off the cooking at its best: expert yet full of startling, delicious flavours. For desert I was drawn to an enigmatic "Something Choc-olate" (a Fun-Sized Mars Bar, perhaps?).

This type of menu Impressionism might be sloppy but could well catch on, for how else in the end do you choose except by fancying something fishy or meaty or whatever? Rich-ard, for example, ordered Champagne Jelly with Citrus Fruits and Bitter Chocolate Sor-bet, thinking he was going to get Something Champagne and Chocolatey, but was disappointed when it turned out to be Something Grapefruity. Something Chocolate, on the other hand, was the most fantastic dark chocolate pie, served with a scoop of exquisite white chocolate cream. They could have just put Something Great and it would have been fine.

Our meal, with wine and drinks, came to pounds 87 plus service. Though Coast is neither cheap, romantic nor cosy, it's a pretty smart "with it" place to go, as long as you remember the door is the pane of glass nearest to Piccadilly.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'