Having wondered why there was this buzz in what I thought is my local cafe, The Shoe Shop, I eventually found out that the Chef, Paul Merrony, and his wife Tracey, previously of the Giaconda Dining Room, had open up shop in my local area. Looking for a much more relaxed life, the Shoe Shop has laid back opening times and a very relaxed atmosphere – great for my local!
Having tried Giaconda Dining Room at the end of its ‘life’, my friend and I had thought the Chef had changed as the cooking was vastly different from previous times. So when it was suggested to try the Shoe Shop, I was a little hesitant and yet hopeful, at the same time I also thought, surely this restaurant’s fame comes from it’s current dishes and not just from previous?
An early Friday dinner reservation was made, 18h30, everything was already booked up for later – I was told to come early to relax and to enjoy a drink when they opened for dinner at 17h30 (see opening times below).
Everything in the Shoe Shop IS very relaxed, and I did take up their suggestion arriving early for a drink to catch up with my friend before dinner. We were contemplating trying a bottle of Sicilian wine (an influence from a recent Italian Wine tasting I attended with Armit Wines) but our friendly waiter recommended a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo instead, offering us a tasting before we committed to a bottle.
Shoe Shop has a small dining area simply and neutrally decorated. Besides the choices from their menu, you also had choices from their blackboard specials – and I like the simplicity of the descriptions… to the point… no frills.
Here are the starters and mains that we ordered.
I could have sworn it was a different chef altogether from my experience at Giaconda Dining Room – Shoe Shop cooking has that base tradition of a French brasserie (from the choice that was made) but with a brought up to date feel/taste. Similar to the way they listed their dish options, simple, clean, solid with no fuss. I enjoyed my meal very much: brains followed by steak tartare.
And judging from the rest of the diners on my table, everyone enjoyed their dishes as well… not one dish had leftovers on it! Now that is really saying something.
The desserts? But of course we had to finish off out meal with some!
I could almost describe Shoe Shop as home cooking, but really it isn’t. The closest description I can find for it – it has that familiarity that I can only say is comparable to your village bistro when you are in France where everyone goes to for their Sunday lunch – good honest cooking with a modern twist.
And that is where I’d like it to remain, retaining it’s friendly atmosphere and not taking on board any upmarket snootiness.
Looking forward to trying the rest of their menu in the near future!
122 Fortess Road
Tue – Sat 9.00am to 2.15pm
Sun 10.00am to 12.00pm
Lunch and Dinner Menu
Tue -Sat- 12.00 to 2.15* and 5.30pm to 9.00pm*
Sun- 12.30 to 2.30pm*
Tue – Sat
Between 2.15 and 5.30 light snacks, cakes & coffees.
* last main course order