Posts Tagged ‘st pancras’

Resto 25 Searcy’s St Pancras Grand Restaurant

May 9, 2017

I’d often wondered, as I hurried along to get a Midlands train, who dined in Searcy’s trackside at St Pancras. It seemed a halfway house between the luxury of the Gilbert Scott and the midbrow convenience of Carluccio’s et al elsewhere in the station that couldn’t really work. The door is narrow and you can’t really see inside to get a handle on who your company might be once you’re in. So we gave it a go at the weekend.

The room is tardis-like, much bigger than you expect, and pleasingly appointed. There are big tables, proper nappery and good, brasserie-style décor. The food is standard bistrot fare too. However, there’s nothing to mark out the restaurant as worthy of note, from food to service. It’s all competent without making you think you must go back so it’s noticeable that most of the customers (on our visit at least) appear to be out of towners who are indeed less than likely to need to go back again. And alas the prices reflect the location rather than the value of the experience. It’s all a bit soulless.

#Food #London

6/10

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

Review #96 MI+ME, St Pancras

November 16, 2016

Scouting out a walk for Belgian clients I arrived at St Pancras ravenous. Options in St P are becoming fairly limited towards the end of the year so I gave MI+ME a go. Given its name I was half expecting some Marcel Marceau action from the waiting staff. Alas, no. The name remains irritating without the mitigation of Baptiste on duty.*

A short café-style menu but a grand view of WH Barlow’s magnificently restored roof is worth the price of entry alone. Especially if you can sit with your back to Paul Day’s execrable Meeting Place.** So the ambiance is good. The service was also swift and friendly.

A tomato soup was rich and peppery with a generous hunk of break and butter. A Rioja on the side helped to keep the chill at bay. And while I was eating an unexpected tableau took place at the platform entrance to the Booking Office.The pleasure to be taken in observing a succession of people negotiating their way through an awkward door is not to be underestimated.

7/10

*That’s a little in-joke for the Carné fans.

**This man was also responsible for the Queen Mother Memorial in St James’s Park (which to be fair is the only public statue in Westminster that provides genuine, if unintentional, belly laughs) and the even worse Bomber Command piece next to Green Park. Frankly the man is an artistic menace with a mysteriously well-connected client list. When Anthony Gormley said of public art, ‘There’s a lot of crap out there’ I think he was speaking almost solely of Day’s output.

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

Review #60 The Gilbert Scott, St Pancras

July 10, 2016

With a wedding anniversary to celebrate we were lured to the Gilbert Scott by the Hix-a-like table d’hôte menu of £29 for three courses. The GS has proved a reliable venue for celebrations in the past and didn’t disappoint on this occasion either.

The room had its critics when it first opened but I like it a lot – high ceilings, restrained artworks and plenty of room so that you can talk among yourselves without feeling crowded in. The service too is exceptionally good and in the past has extended to accommodating eccentric dress among its clientèle without a blink of an eye.

But how about the food? The restaurant specialises in seasonal British food and it does it exceptionally well. Everything at our table was cooked and sauced to perfection though for those looking for a bargain you will have to stump up for a few sides – one extra helping of chips and broccoli (at £6 a pop mind you) was just about enough for two rather than four.

There’s a monster wine list with booze up to the squillions a bottle but value is to be had too if you look carefully. So in a head to head with Hix I’d say that they both offer a similar proposition – a £29 per head headline price that will double once you’ve added in an apéritif, vino and sides. But that’s ok because as a place to go for a treat the Gilbert Scott is hard to beat.

8/10

To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here

Review #32 Grainger & Co, St. Pancras

April 3, 2016

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After an improbable triumph in a cup semi-final earlier in the day* followed by 70 minutes of moderately good harpsichord I was exiting King’s Place with a ravening hunger. GoogleLand out the back of St Pancras was my destination of choice where it seems that a new resto opens each week.

We ducked out of the rain into Grainger & Co not having any clue as to what their proposition was and basing our choice solely on proximity to where we were. It turned out to be a winner. The room is lovely – high ceilings, big windows to people watch and what I’m guessing would be a rather pleasant terrace on which to bask in more clement weather.

We were also lucky to get a nice big corner table from which we could watch the room – the clientèle on a Saturday seemed to be a mixture of business/techy types and visitors to London. A soundtrack of pleasant indie pop was not so loud as to be intrusive and it all felt highly civilised.

The menu offers a great variety and we went for some nuts’n’olives (slightly pricy) to take the edge off while waiting for mains of miso salmon and fish curry. The salmon was absolutely delicious – cooked to perfection in a smoky miso sauce and with a great heap of coriander on the side it was bursting with flavour. With some good crunchy brown rice for stodge and sloshed down with a Viognier I could have eaten it all over again. In fact I was nearly tempted to go for another main of lamb but then thought that would be too self-indulgent. The one quibble is that I could see the chilli in the sauce but I couldn’t really taste it.

Service was charmingly faultless and at mid-price I’d say that G&C is highly recommendable. We rolled out into the rain to take a digestif in the newly revamped Scottish Stores with some jolly Watford fans.

8/10

*For the record the Mighty Albion beat Cambazola 10-9 on penalties after full time finished 2-2.

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

The Soane Museum

January 21, 2016

With an idle hour or two between teaching and meeting a friend at St Pancras I found myself wandering down to Somerset House, drawn by the lure of coffee at Fernandez&Wells and art at the Courtauld. Walking through Lincoln’s Inn fields I noticed that for once there was barely a queue outside the Soane Museum. Serendipity is a good thing. I had an exactly Soane-sized hole in my afternoon.

The last time I went to the Soane it was for an evening function with the whole museum lit by candlelight. This time, it being a public day, it wasn’t quite so atmospheric but nevertheless low lighting within and a gloomy afternoon without meant that the Soane’s peculiarly crepuscular feel was undiminished. The peculiar light, and the classical nature of the bits and pieces that scatter the rooms, put me in mind of the Rothko room at Tate Modern. They share a sombreness that silences even the squawkiest of visitors.

Which doesn’t sound like much fun! 

But it is. While his museum feels sombre it is clear that Soane had a sense of humour, which is particularly apparent in his Gothick Monk’s Room in the basement. Photography isn’t allowed so I can’t SHOW the uninitiated what treasures lie within but only describe a very personal selection of highlights, some of which will have universal appeal and some of which may be peculiar to me. The Soane is that kind of museum. It’s a collection that the architect himself developed over years, adapting the building to accommodate new acquisitions and to record tragic events in his own family (the death of his wife, his eldest son’s early death from TB and his younger son’s wastrel ways), as well as his friendship with some of the great figures of the Georgian age.

As I said,  the most apparent parts of the collection are the architectural features, some original and some plaster casts, that are spread throughout the building. It’s worth getting into all the nooks and crannies (and the whole house is a feast of n’s and c’s) to find your favourite. Amidst this plethora of classical works it is easy to forget that the museum is also one of the great art collections of London. Hogarth features highly (An Election Entertainment being my favourite) but on this occasion it was two works by the British Indian painter Hodges of Agra and Futtypoor that caught my eye.*

  

Of the collection of Great Man Memorabilia the two things that stood out were a maquette of Pitt’s statue in Westminster Abbey and a beautiful little miniature of a young Napoleon. Not in the same room alas but nevertheless a nice juxtaposition in the mind. And Walpole’s desk, which proves to be the desk of a midget. 

The last item that I’ll mention was a model and painting of Soane’s design for his wife’s mausoleum. She dies young and like Queen Victoria half a century later, he blamed the death on his son and failed to come to terms with her loss. The painting of the tomb showed it with that of Rousseau in the background in the idyllic setting of Ermenonville.

The reality of the tomb’s site is somewhat less Arcadian. On leaving the museum I walked up to St Pancras, where the tomb is to be found in the churchyard of the old church. The church is somewhat Soanesian in its eclectic amalgam of styles.

  

The church is out the back of St Pancras station on the way to Camden. As you walk north past the shiny new station, British Library and Crick Institute a bit of old London that I’m sure Soane would have approved of is clinging on for dear life. 

  

Then to the tomb itself. It looks a bit mournful (well, I suppose it is a tomb!), not to say neglected. At first this made me sad, that an object whose design Soane had taken so much care over should end up bedraggled in a grotty corner of North London. The contrast with the hyper curated and cared for space of the museum could hardly be greater. But then thinking over his love for Rousseau and his own sense of the Gothick I reflected that maybe he wouldn’t be so concerned that the tomb has been left in a state of nature, to decay over time and add to the melancholy romance of his wife’s early demise.


So I would urge a visit to the museum and then a brisk 20 minute walk to the churchyard. The museum is free but numbers are limited, so be prepared to queue. You won’t regret it.

* Hodges’ work features heavily in the Artist and Epire exhibition at Tate Britain, which I hope to blog on soon. It’s a good exhibition but has its flaws. Another highlight of the collection of paintings is Soane’s own portrait by Thomas Lawrence (who I’d commission to do my own portrait if he were still available – his depiction of Castlereagh makes a Byronic hero of someone that Byron himself loathed. A masterstroke of irony to the arch exponent of the gap yah). 


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