Gourmand Gunno has been a regular traveller to and frequent advocate of Israel. There is much to love about the country and its food. Its location affords it two things: superb climate – after all, this is the famed land of milk and honey – and strategic positioning; at the intersection of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. With these factors in mind, it is hard not to be attracted. Londoners have been lucky enough to get a small insight into the country’s cuisine, first from Yotam Ottolenghi and more recently from venues such as The Palomar and The Barbary. The Coal Office, located in the Granary Square development behind King’s Cross, is the latest iteration of Israel’s potential and perhaps the venue in London that most faithfully captures the vibe of high-end dining outlets in Tel Aviv. Formal it is not, yet beneath the buzz, this is an incredibly slick operation. Expect pulsing beats, mini dramas from the open kitchen, engaging serving staff and – above all – mostly top-notch food. We were able to take everything in from the high-stooled table where we sat, the kitchen to one side the large open windows looking to the canal on the other. Décor is by designer Tom Dixon and the menu created by Assaf Granit (who found fame in Jerusalem’s legendary Machneyuda restaurant). The starting premise behind the food is ‘coal and wood.’ This may be part reference to the history behind the venue – in the Victorian era, coal was delivered up the canal to this part of London – but also a fundamental philosophy, that most things taste better when they are roasted and/or smoked. Simple can be good and a kubalah bread accompanied by labneh, tomato confit and fresh oregano, with which we began, proved this point. The bread was soft and comforting and the flavours melded seamlessly. Beyond bread, diners are encouraged to share a handful of smaller dishes, perhaps one from the ‘in between’ section and then conclude with a larger plate, again intended for sharing. We stuck broadly to this formula. While there was much love for the openers (especially the amazing polenta offering and also probably the most interesting take on fennel – here, with orange, olives, almonds and harissa – I have ever seen), the other dishes were more mixed. My octopus was quite superb, enhanced by an original truffle harissa sauce. However, my comrade was sufficiently unimpressed with her freekeh and smoked aubergine dish (‘bland, like a mid-week thing I might cook at home’) that it got sent back to the kitchen. It was – to the credit of the staff – replaced by an alternative. Similarly, for the puddings, tahini ice cream rocked, but the Coal Office’s take on malabi was discordant and rubbery. Maybe it didn’t matter too much, if you are happy to come and enjoy the vibe and think of the whole thing as a chaotically lively experience (the dishes come as soon as they are ready) with some flashes of culinary brilliance. It’s not super-cheap (especially once drinks are added in) and won’t be for everyone, but we mostly loved it.