Posts Tagged ‘Kings Cross’

Resto 5 Franco Manca, Kings Cross

February 11, 2019


Once upon a time the only place to get a decent drink or a bite to eat if you were on the way to Kings Place was either the Lincoln Lounge or the venue itself. Now all sorts of shit is springing up around York Way to service the ever gentrifying residents and workers of the area.

The Lincoln Lounge is still keeping it real but alas they don’t do bait (well, they’ve got crisps) so we took a punt on a quick dinner in Franco Manca before the excellent Steven Osbourne did Prokofiev as it should be done.

This FM is proper restaurant-sized so it was a mystery to me why, in a half empty restaurant, the waiter should squeeze us into a corner between two other couples. I couldn’t be arsed to argue, I was too hungry.

The menu is pleasantly brief – snacks, salads, pizzas and pasta. We went for an alfalfa (or as they called it when I was growing up, ‘cress’) salad, a meat board and a mushroom pizza to share.

Then the craziness began. The salad arrived in record time. Now I like a salad but I don’t really see a small bowl of it (and no plates to eat it off) as worthy of putting down in front of two people and retreating as if you’ve just delivered a feast in Cana’. So we stared at it and wondered if anything else was going to show up. After about ten minutes we got the pizza. Counterintuitive – where was our thin, raw meat?

Oh, you wanted that? Yes, we did.

Someone taking your order without writing anything down is only impressive if said food is actually delivered.

So now we had pizza, two plates, meat board, salad, wine and water on a table the size of a postage stamp. But we managed. The pizza base was excellent but was scant of mushroom. The meat too was top quality, while the salad was a salad.

If you want to survive in the Italian market you’ve got to do better than that.


To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap …

Resto 30 Rusty Bike Indian Kitchen, Kings Cross

September 2, 2018


We were in Kings Cross for the Pablo Held Trio gig at Kings Place. If you haven’t seen the PBT and you like jazz you MUST SEE THEM! I’m not usually so passionate about recommending things to people as I’m of the nature of not being very good at receiving gushy enthusals. But they are extraordinarily good. And from Cologne, a place of which I have very fond memories.

Beforehand we were looking for Indian food but not at Dishoom. The food is excellent in Dishoom but you’re very aware of being served at the hands of a very high quality, mass volume outfit. And when people start taking their suitcases to restaurants its time for the full time resident to find an alternative.

Most Indian outfits in KX do not inspire confidence from the outside. But Rusty Bike is different. It looks like whoever’s in charge has an eye on design and wants to minimise the shab. So we went in.

It’s a small room and at first we were the only customers. We’d BOOB from Waitrose and I asked the guy if that was okay. He gave me a suspicious look and didn’t really reply so I took his silence as assent. When he came along with the menus I asked him for a couple of glasses for the wine which he went off and got.

“You just finished your GCSEs?” he asked my son like in a squinty-eyed spaghetti western-style scrute. My son is 21 (I think! I lose track sometimes.)

‘Last year at uni.’

‘Which one?’


This didn’t register.

‘That near Manchester?’

‘No, it’s in Conventry.’

‘Oh, Coventry. You like Coventry, it’s nice yeah?’

We wondered if he was familiar with Coventry.

‘Coventry … that’s Birmingham right?’

‘Yeah, near there.’

This seemed to reassure him and he left us to look at the menu. It is extensive and featured a few things that I liked the look of. We had mixed starters to share and then lamb shashlik, a duck thing and bindhi bhaji. Unlike at the India Club he was happy to sell us a chapati so we took one of them with a plain naan.*

The food was excellent. Succulent meat and proper spicing on the carnivorous side of things but if you’re a veggie I can recommend the bindhi, it was superb. By the time we left the room was filling up. Despite his slight hostility at the outset I liked the waiter. He reminded me of King Baba in his willingness to engage customers in disjointed, slightly surreal conversation. At around fifteen quid a head the Rusty Bike deserves to thrive.


#Food #London #PabloHeld

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap

*The last time we went to the India Club we asked for chapatis and the waiter wouldn’t sell them to us as ‘they take too long to cook’. Which is unusual.

Resto 46 Caravan, Kings Cross

August 27, 2017

For once it was actually too hot to eat comfortably outside in London so we were looking for a shady place for lunch in King’s Cross. Caravan’s terrace was rammed but there was plenty of room inside where we squeezed in between a lone office worker and a group of mums and tots. It’s that kind of place.

So if you’re looking for tranquility Caravan is not the place to come. The music is loud, the ceiling is cavernous and the chatter rattles of the stripped brick walls. Which is a long-winded way to say that there was a good atmosphere.

You can share small plates or go for mains but in the end we both plumped for pizza with a shared rocket salad. When I ordered boquerones the server asked me if I knew what they were. I did but I couldn’t remember. I knew I liked them. When I saw them I remembered that they were slivery anchovies from scoffing them elsewhere. The pizza had a good crispy base but not in Paesano’s class. (I think Paesano might have ruined every pizza I ever eat by totally outclassing the field. )The salad was good but with a little bit too much oil in the dressing for my taste. A pint of Camden Pale was a good thing.

So I’d put Vagabond above Dishoom but below Grain Store on this strip. At around twenty quid a head it’s mid-range and a useful place to go if you want a bit wider menu than you’d get in Pizza Express.  But only if you’re in the area.


#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 15 Vinoteca, King’s Cross

March 7, 2017

So a pre-birthday treat with a friend and one of the few restos out the back of Kings Cross that I haven’t yet been to. So far it’s been a pretty high quality experience so how does Vinoteca measure up to the competition.

IMG_0639 3 2

Nice tubes.

Well, first up it’s housed in one of my favourite new buildings in London. A David Chipperfield masterpiece (at least on the visual/tactile side of things – or should I say sculpturally) from the outside, what was it like inside? Good, busy even on a Monday evening with barely space at the bar and all tables occupied. The vibe is more rustic than expected and despite the buzz of conversation and music it wasn’t too noisy to have a tête à tête.

We warmed up with a ginking (some kind of fizzywater-gin combination) while waiting for the table to come free. A refreshing way to kick off and not too alcoholic (for one of us at least). The menu is classic bistro stuff and I only had eyes for the fish. There was a wrangle about who would have the hake and who would have the sole. I had the sole but the hake was off so it was a sea bream across from me.

Distracted by conversation I forgot that sole can be a fiddly beast and took a mouthful of spindles along with my fishflesh. Not very elegant. The fish was cooked perfectly though and the samphire and stuff that came along with it was deliciously salty-sea flavoured too. I only wish that I’d been alerted to the fact that I had ordered NO STODGE. I had an absence of stodge and my stomach was rebelling.

So for dessert I had a Bakewell Tart – a generous slab of the almondy stuff with some cream ((? ) Can’t remember what it was, I’m not very good at identifying sweet things) on top. It could have done with a bit better balance between the dry and moist elements on the plate. Fortunately I had a good sized portion of French dessert wine to help it down and it did so very well.

Vinoteca match food to drinks on the menu and I was happy to trust their expertise, which turned out to be spot on. I liked the service too – attentive when necessary and friendly. It’s the kind of place I’d be happy to go back to with a bunch of friends and try out a few more wines in company.


#food #london #kingscross

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 check out my GoogleMap


Review #112 Rotunda, Kings Cross

December 31, 2016

A marathon eating day – Rowley’s for lunch would usually lead to salad in the evening but hey, it’s Christmas so the fun must go on. After a meet up with a couple of friends we headed to Rotunda to find a calmer atmosphere than the frenzy around the station.

We did find it but maybe it was a little too calm. There was a  smattering of drinkers at the bar but no-one else in the restaurant. We batted on anyway, Rotunda has proved to be reliable in the past. The room is especially good in the summer when you can look out onto the canal. On a winter evening it’s less picturesque but still pleasant.

I think with New Year’s Eve the next day it was forgivable that there was a skeleton staff and a limited menu. I had a Groundhog Meal of soup to start followed by a ribeye steak (fillet was off, grr). The soup was decent, the steak less good – cooked well but a bit chewy. To be honest I was flagging by the time the steak turned up and it was with less of a bang than a whimper that I consumed the last meal of 2017.


#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #33 German Gymnasium, Kings Cross

April 5, 2016

A sunny afternoon and a hungry family were on the hunt for something a bit different in town. With the youngest doing German A-Level it was back to Kings Cross to test out the quality of the Gymnasium’s sausage.* This made a serendipitous finale to the weekend after seeing Victoria, recommended viewing for its spectacle if not for its improbable storyline concerning the stupidest, yet surprisingly effective bank robbers currently on a screen near you.

The room is fabulous, a historic building transformed into an elegant room with several different dining/drinking spaces and a gurt high ceiling which gives an airy feel. On sunnier days sitting on their terrace of an afternoon would be an admirable thing to do. A smattering of customers chattered to the strains of Europop blanding discreetly in the background.

In between lunch and dinner the menu is restricted to a selection of Mitteleuropa staples (wurst, goulash, fish, cakes and strudel) but we didn’t mind that. Tasty bread to kick off is a nice touch and then we looked at drinks. The youngest took a pint of beer (good call) and we looked at the wine list which features a more extensive selection of German and Austrian wines than you’re likely to find elsewhere in London. A Trocken from Baden was a thing of utter yum and on reflection I wish I’d had more of it.

Food when it arrived (and the service was faultless) was tasty and generous. Two big knackewursts on a good dollop of mash with sauerkraut (and not too sour) on the side was dispatched without mercy. The goulash soup looked good too but was maybe a little on the small side for a man-sized appetite. We were nearly tempted by the desserts but caution prevailed and we strolled off in Teutonic contentment. I can’t break the rules and return for food but I can predict with certainty that the GG will rival Bar Pepito for a pre-train aperitif when out with northern friends in the years to come.


*The last time I was here was for a Monocle event in 2012 at which the deputy mayor of Rio gave a presentation outlining his vision of Olympic renovation for the city, after which I got into an improbable conversation with a representative of GE about advancements in turbine technology. Given that I was the only person in the room who looked neither like a supermodel nor a captain of industry it took him a surprisingly long time to twig that I had a limited budget to spend on his heavy duty Jenbacher model.

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

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