Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Places To Eat In London: Grain Store, King's Cross

On Monday night before my friend Amy got her train back up North I finally got to dine at the third and final spot on a list of King's Cross eateries around Granary Square I've had my eye on: Grain Store. Grain Store is French chef Bruno Loubet's relatively new joint. Think Scandi plates, unusual flavour combinations and a really great paired down atmosphere. You're transported into a top London restaurant but with the more fashionable attitude you've come to expect from a lot of London's exciting new eateries. 
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Proceedings were kicked off with a cocktail. I must say that Amy and I were really happy to see each other, as we have not been together for over 19 months. So, this lead to me mis-ordering. I'd planned to get the Margarita, but I was not really paying attention so I ordered the Granary Martini instead. When I ordered it, I still was not really paying enough attention because our waitress asked me if I minded a strong mustard flavour, because the cocktail I'd ordered was rather strong and unique. I said yes, and only when it was set down in front of me I realised my error! Anyway. I don't think either of us really know what to make of the Granary Martini made with Mustard Vodka and White Vermouth. Sitting here writing a couple of days on, I still can't decide if I enjoyed it or not; it was certainly a unique cocktail experience. I rather like Amy's summary: unusual, confusing, challenging. Amy actually had one of the infused wines off of the menu, and it was simply delicious. If you're nervous about trying new things drinks wise, I would recommend one of those instead. 
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I was the only one of us who opted for a starter, and I went for the Seaweed and Cucumber, Green Apple Puree, Pickled Redcurrant and Mackerel Tartare, which turned out to be my favourite stand out dish of the evening. The fish was packed full of flavour, the salad was crunchy, complex and interesting, and the apple puree had a fresh, almost citrus like flavour. When I was asked by a friend the other day what I thought about my meal at Grain Store I said that I really enjoyed it all, but there was about one element of every dish that I was not quite sure about. For this dish it was the seaweed. I like seaweed in almost all forms, but I found it dry and I'm not sure the flavours matched as well with the rest of the plate, even if it did make it look pretty. 
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For my main I had the wood pigeon, and it was all absolutely delicious. The pigeon was juicy, tender and perfectly cooked, and the bed of cabbage on the bottom it was perfectly balanced. The truffle sauce and the dill on top not only finished it all off visually, but really boosted the flavours as well. Problem is, past what I could discern on my plate in front of me I'm not actually sure what I was eating, because it was not what I ordered off of the menu. The menu listed Fermented Red Cabbage, Tea Soaked Golden Grapes, Truffle Dressing and Wood Pigeon. I'd actually ordered this because I'd wanted to try the grapes and the cabbage, because as much as I love wood pigeon and it was cooked perfectly, I have a load in my freezer shot on the farm so I can have it whenever I want. When I enquired as to the state of my (albeit delicious) dish I was apologised to, that they had decided to change the dish slightly but had not updated the menu yet. Fair enough, but an error in service that really is not excusable for when you're paying £15.50 for the small plate. Amy had the Chilli, and she proclaimed that it was the best vegetarian chilli she'd ever tasted. I stole a bite and I concurred. Full of flavour with several complex layers, but still wonderful and comforting. 
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Our desserts did not really get pictured properly because Amy had to rush off to catch here train, but more than anything else from the meal I think they are well worth a mention. Above you can see my Coconut & Kaffir Lime Tapioca, Candied Sweet Potatoes and Banana Wafer. I was still thinking about that tapioca on the tube home. The coconut and lime flavours were perfectly balanced, the lime adding freshness to the creamy pudding, and the tapioca pearls adding a tender yet still a bit chewy texture that made the dish perfectly balanced. The sweet potatoes were not, flavour wise recognisable as such, but were still delicious and really complimented the tapioca. That one thing I was unsure about was the banana wafer; again I found it a bit dry and the flavour was a bit too deep not to pull the rest of the dish down. I also would not have really been able to tell that it was actually supposed to be banana if I had not seen it on the menu.

So, what did I think of Grain Store really, and would I go back? As I've said, there were elements of each dish that were simply delicious and flawless, and I'd expect to cost much more, but for each one of those there was a little something I was unsure about. I would recommend you go and try Grain Store, because it is certainly a unique flavour experience, but personally I would not go back for this lunch/ dinner menu. However, the all day menu looks a lot better, still with interesting flavour combinations but without some of the artistic risks that I don't think appealed to me on the main menu; I'd like to try the Panzenalla Salad & Fishcake or the Grain Store Hot Dog with Onion Jam, Citrus Ketchup and Jalapenos. However, I have not heard great things about the brunch menu. Personally, also I have seen more imaginative brunch menus in London as well. 
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After dinner, all the fountains in Granary Square are lit up in a little light show, well worth a head over to look at for a few minutes while you digest your meal, if it is not raining, of course! I know Grain Store is something a bit different from where I normally eat, and the only other really 'fancy' places in London where the food has been played around with a bit more I've written about are Hotel Chocolat's Rabot 1745 and Lima, but it is nice to have somewhere up your sleeve for a bit of a treat; I'd call Grain Store somewhere I'd head for a special occasion, but with a much better price point than the other two I've just mentioned. If you're meeting someone who is coming into King's Cross, Euston or St. Pancras for a meal I'd say Grain Store is the special occasion place, Shrimpy's is the place for steak, seafood and pisco sours with a different atmosphere, and Caravan is great for brunch or just a casual yet delicious meal to share with friends. 


Where are your favourite places to eat in London for a meal that is just that little bit more special? I think the next place for a special occasion meal I have to try is Fifteen. I've met the Head Chef, drunk at the bar (the guys there have serious skills) and salivated over their staff suppers up in Old Street, but I have yet to actually dine there!

5 comments:

  1. Bah! To this place not being totally awesome. The menu looks so inventive and promising...

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  2. I know, the little things that bothered me were such a shame.

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  3. For anyone with coeliac disease/nut allergies/major food intolerances: this place is a gem. I emailed in advance to ask if they could cater to me both as a vegetarian and a coeliac, and within half an hour they emailed me back with a special menu for people with dietary requirements.

    I would definitely go back.

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  4. I love this post and your blog in general. Your posts always make me feel so hungry and always look beyond yummy! Your photos are amazing. What camera do you use?
    Beth x

    http://www.thebritishgirl.co.uk/

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  5. Thank you! I usually use a Nikon D60, which you can't get anymore and is just a standard entry level DSLR, with the lens it came with. It is about 8 years old, it has been all over the world with me and is the first big ticket thing I ever purchased with my own money. I'd love a new one as the new DSLR's are so much lighter, and I'd love a small compact as they are so much better quality now, but at the moment it is fine and I have more important things to spend my money on - aka I'm typing from a new MacBook Pro as the old one broke pretty suddenly and was not worth the cost of fixing!

    However, camera aside all the photos in this post aside from the first two were actually taken on my iPhone 5s. Lots of my food photography from restaurants actually is as it is quicker and easier. I was actually lucky enough to take a Smartphone Food Photography course over the Summer, and I've included a lot of tips I gained from it in this post here: http://www.rachelphipps.com/2013/09/places-to-eat-in-london-smartphone.html

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