The Tincan pop-up tapas restaurant in Soho is unmistakable from afar. Rows of colourful tins give a metallic glow from their mounts on the smooth black walls, attracting passers-by in from the dark night. The decor is minimalistic – as clean and stylish as the serving of the food itself.The staff were all smiles, and extremely passionate about the food and its concept. “What food and what concept?”, I hear you ask. From what my friend Noel had told me, I knew was that my supper was to come from tins. From the interior, it was clear that they specialised in seafood. The herringbone arrangement of the tins on the walls, as well as the disk lights, made it seem as if we were in a deep sea bubble. Even the soap in the toilet was designed especially for seafood-handlers.
The restaurant’s claim to serve ‘the best tinned seafood in the world’ is one I would not like to dispute. Although no amount of forewarning can ensure against your heart skipping a beat when you scan the prices – which range from £7 to £22 – with items such as bonito tuna belly and urchin caviar on the menu, the expense is worthwhile. The tins are sourced from all over Europe. We ordered Squid preserved in its own ink (£10), Stickleback (£7), and White anchovies in cider vinegar (£10), with two beers (£4.50 each) made from filtered seawater, the first of its kind in the world to be commercially brewed.
The food was delicious. Tins, I found, were made for squid since they give it no potential to be bland and chewy, and fill you up more than you would imagine. Even better, you could tell the food would be good from the moment the bread basket arrived. The salad and bread were plain but fresh, and accompanied by finely-chopped shallots, chillies, and parsley. A laboratory-style flask contained award-winning unfiltered olive oil, nothing else. No fanciful infusions.
The Tincan is just another chapter in the portfolio of an architect inspired by one such restaurant in Portugal, but in its brief showing in London it has successfully elevates the humble tin to à la carte status.
Find the Tincan soon, before the end of January 2015, on 7 Upper James Street, W1F 9DH