In an impressive former granary north of King’s Cross, a (much larger) offshoot of the popular Clerkenwell café/bistro; an impressive all-rounder, it has quickly become surprisingly busy.
The crowd at this King’s Cross newcomer – in the same former granary premises that Central Saint Martins now occupies – came as a bit of a disappointment. A member of our staff who’d been for weekend brunch had assured us that it was achingly young and hip, so we had naturally braced ourselves for being well out-of-place.
Sadly, though, the punters on our weekday lunchtime visit were, without exception, disappointingly normal. There were an awful lot of ’em, too – by the time we left, the place was full. And this, with a recession allegedly raging, in the middle of what some of us still think of as an urban wasteland. We just can’t get the question out of our minds: where do all these people come from? Perhaps it’s simply that the word has got out that this is – like its less ambitious Clerkenwell parent – a good all-rounder.
Given the large and lofty space the dining room occupies, the economically rational decision has been taken to let the interior speak for itself. Add a few banquettes and few bare-filament light bulbs – enough already! – and Bob’s your proverbial.
The food is mainly small plates and pizzas. We didn’t taste the latter, but they looked very good. For the former, we kicked off with oysters. Sticklers for tradition as we are when it comes to mollusc-presentation, this proved to be one of those rare acceptable variations – on a big shiny platter, each oyster its own little rock-salt plinth. Very pretty, and the taste was impressive too. In fact, everything here – from the ham hock to the treacle tart, with some more innovative dishes on the way – was a pleasure both to look at, and to taste too. The odd exception, as others have also commented, is the fried chicken brick. Why?
Service was hip without being intimidating. Note to the man on the door, though – look up when customers come in; they are your business, not your computer. But that was our only real criticism – this is a formula that looks as if it ought to please those crowds.