Tuesday, 17 July 2012


After the success of Bonnie and Wild, the part-time restaurant that shared Manze's (Islington) last year, Bonnie Gull are now striking out on their own.  So here we are at the Seaside Shack: there are sailors' hats and sea shanties, deck chairs, fishing nets and buoys; an authentic surf-like spray drifts across our cheeks.
A couple of days into its brief residency (5th - 21st July) on top of Magdalen House on Tooley Street, Bonnie-on-Sky hasn't been blessed with seaside weather: more umbrellas tonight than sun shades.  A sheltering roof has been tacked over the "open-air" pavilion, and the spray drifting in through the porous walls comes from rain rather than pounding surf. From where we sit, The Shard looks like an up-ended liner about to plunge Titanic-like into the depths, wreathed by swirling showers and mist. It is a grey, grey evening!
A round of cocktails settles everyone, however, and the enthusiastic, youthful team of helpers buzzes about dispensing cheery smiles. Rumours of a possible British winner in the Wimbledon Men's Doubles Final emerge, set by set, from twenty or thirty glowing i-phones, and contribute an unexpectedly patriotic bonhomie. Then the hen party arrives, dressed for the occasion in naval costume and sailor hats, already well beyond the yo ho ho and a bottle of rum stage.
Bonnie-on-Sky is all about the fish: Bonnie Gull's sustainable, high quality, British fish. The starters are very good: plump mussels in a creamy cider-based sauce or smoked trout with beetroot and a horseradish cream on bubble and squeak.  There is a choice of mains, but everyone goes for the crab.  Bashing, cracking and prising open, slurping, chewing, this is hands-on eating at its most physical.  Neighbours become friends as bits of shell and crab-juice fly back and forth between tables.
Excellent though the food is, Bonnie-on-Sky is rough and ready in parts.  The service is immensely enthusiastic but not very accurate and mistakes abound; the wine-list mark up is a bit steep; cottony supermarket baguettes detract from rather than complement the dishes.  
But it's fun, a bit different, and on a warm, summer's evening, this would be a great place to be, beside the sea, watching the sun go down, chewing on a crab claw.

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