Not too long ago King’s Cross was better known for its greasy kebabs and hookers than its culinary delights. It was that seedy area you always tried to avoid. Thanks to a hefty reinvestment it is now an urban hotspot, with a list of trendy restaurants to choose from, as well as the Kerb street-food market. There are few better symbols of the area’s rebirth than the St. Pancras building. Finally getting off the train in London no longer dashes your hopes of what the big city might have in store. With this grand building, comes The Gilbert Scott. In itself this is a sure sign that King’s Cross is on the up, given that no other than Marcus Wareing, the feisty dictator of the two Michelin starred restaurant in the Berkeley, is attached. And as a side note I like that it isn’t called Marcus Wareing at The Renaissance, because unlike other chefs he hasn’t sold himself to have his name above the door of a restaurant he doesn’t always cook in.
The restaurant matches the grandeur of the building with one of the most opulent dining rooms in London. On a packed Thursday evening it was a world away from the polluted Euston Road outside. If the room itself isn’t enough to please, then I’d defy any Brit not to be seduced by the menu. It reads like a greatest hits of British classics. There’s no fancy cooking techniques mentioned, just faith in good ingredients, the way that proper British cooking should be.
A bottle of Coates and Seely Rose (£74) was a pleasant alternative to a rose champagne, and got things off to a smooth start. It was just a shame that the service began to falter from here. First of all we had to ask 4 different waiters for a bottle of water before one arrived, and then after I knocked a glass of champagne everywhere no new napkin arrived after I’d mopped it up. These were all little hiccups that I didn’t mind too much. It was when the starters still hadn’t come an hour later that I began to get a bit frustrated.
Thankfully when the food did arrive it was good enough to make us forgive and forget the slow start. The Omelette Arnold Bennett (£10.50) was filled with Gruyère cheese and flakes of smoked haddock. It was incredibly light and had the texture of a souffle.
My starter of foie gras was fine but the accompanying jelly (I forget what it was) was just too strong in flavour, and combined with the pear it overpowered the delicate taste of the foie gras.
The Yorkshire fish cake with nettles and tartare sauce (£8) was the pick of the starters. It was a big thing as well, with plenty of succulent fish keeping things moist.
The Dorset Crab (£10.50) with radish and fennel was lovely and fresh, and the crab was probably the best I’ve tasted. There was also a really generous heap of it.
For main the Wood Pigeon in a pudding (£19.50) was served with baby onions and mushrooms in a good Yorkshire pudding. It was a deliciously hearty and comforting dish. Bold flavours that can’t help but please.
The rib of beef for two (£66) was right up there with the Hawksmoor beef. It was a huge hunk of meat with a Flintstone sized bone to suck the marrow from. A side of fries (£4) came with a cracking tangy mayonnaise. This really was belly pleasing stuff.
The braised ox cheek (£19.50) came with bubble and squeak and chanterelles and again it hit all of the right notes. This is the type of cooking that restores your faith in British cuisine.
To finish we shared the Yorkshire rhubarb posset (£7.50) which was that needed bit of freshness after a rich and heavy meal.
The sticky toffee pudding (£8) was rich and avoided being too heavy. That sauce really was sticky.
We were then invited to see the kitchen which helped to smooth things over. It was a shame we hadn’t gone down in the middle of service, as there was little action at the end of the night. I had hoped for swearing and heat, instead there was a few laid back chefs doing stock checks. Still though it was a nice unexpected gesture.
Everything about the restaurant from the grandness of the room to the excellent menu and strong cooking made it an enjoyable expeirience. It was just a shame we caught the service on what I hope was an off night. It is also decent value for money, as eating food this good in surroundings like this could easily take you up to the £80 a head mark. Here you’re looking at closer to the £50 mark.