North London Food & Culture

Big Review: Grain Store, King’s Cross

It's the swanky new opening on Granary Square where vegetables share 'equal billing' with meat and fish. But does it work?

Grain Store. Photo: Amy Murrell
A vast, airy interior: Grain Store. Photo: Amy Murrell

Grain Store in King’s Cross epitomises the new-found confidence surging through that oddly named postcode N1C. The interior isn’t perhaps quite as stylish as might be expected after the all-conquering industrial minimalism of Caravan next door, although perhaps that’s its point of difference. But the vast gallery-cafe style space, all white chairs and theatrically open kitchen, with acclaimed chef Bruno Loubet at the helm, has its own airy charms.

We sat at the bar because, although the place was half full, we arrived without booking at around 7pm on a Tuesday and were told there were no other spaces available. Still, that was fine, and a truffle martini (from an intriguing range of cocktails created by talented mixologist Tony Conigliaro) was an energising start, although I wouldn’t necessarily repeat its very savoury alcoholic punch. We also enjoyed watching the excitable, if stroppy, Italian bartender tsk-ing and ticking off of the other staff.

The whole spiel about Grain Store (from Clerkenwell’s Zetter Group) is that it’s a restaurant with “no geographical boundaries” where vegetables are given “equal billing” to meat and fish – if not the “starring role”. In an interview in the Observer, chef Bruno Loubet says “I just feel we have been eating too much meat. It’s about health but it’s also about flavour. And you can’t argue with the logistics of that.

Glass of Picpoul in hand, we chose a couple of light, but not life-changing, starters: the first, a mix of sprouting beans and seeds, miso aubergine, crispy citrus chicken skin and potato wafer, was more intriguing texturally than in its flavours, the slivers of crispy fat adding an edge to a plate almost forgettably slight. The other, a courgette, broad bean and prawn falafel was perhaps the best example of the genre we’ve tasted, but a needed fishy edge was absent.


The mains were astounding, however. Sautéed padron peppers matched an addictive bitterness with the sweetness of toasted almonds and olive oil, with flaked salt cod adding seasoning and depth of flavour. The star of the show? A humble cauliflower braised in buttermilk and caraway, rich and luxurious, served with a side plate of richly meaty devilled duck heart: we agreed it was one of the more memorable dishes we’ve had recently.

Afterwards we sat with a spritz on Caravan’s packed outdoor terrace and watched the darkness fall over the canal and cranes beyond, the water fountains lit up appealingly. King’s Cross really is staking a claim as the new food capital of London, and – as we always say – even better is the fact that it’s only a half hour stroll away along the canal.

Grain Store, Granary Square N1C. Starters and sharing plates around £6. Mains from £10. Cocktails from £7. Expect to pay about £40 a head. Kentishtowner Rating: 8/10.

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