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 had told me, all I knew was that my supper was to come from tins, but the theme strikes you once you sit down. The herringbone arrangement of the tins on the walls, as well as the disk lights dangling down from the ceiling, make it seem as if the diner is in a deep sea bubble. Even the soap in the toilet is meant particularly 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, in London at least the expense is well-warranted. What is served is, after all, gourmet seafood, with tins 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 commercial brewed.
The food was delicious – tins, I found, were made for squid, since they give it no potential to be bland and chewy – and more filling than you would imagine. Even better, you could tell the food would be good even before it appeared. This was evident in the fact that the salad and bread that arrived beforehand were fresh but plain, and in small quantities. Finely-chopped shallots, chillies, and parsley accompanied. A laboratory-style flask contained award-winning unfiltered olive oil, nothing else. No infusions. There was no need to compensate for flavour and hunger.
The Tincan successfully elevates the humble tin to à la carte status. Unfortunately this is just another chapter in the portfolio of an architect inspired by one such restaurant in Portugal. The aim is not to revolutionise British food, but to introduce to Britain a foreign dining concept.
Find the Tincan soon, before the end of January 2015, on 7 Upper James Street, W1F 9DH