Granger & Co
There’s an exuberant air at Granger & Co in Kings Cross. They don’t take reservations, so people queue expectantly amid the buzz of the square, which makes the wait easier.
The shape of the place is striking. Loosely based on an Italian railway station bar, it is beautifully set up with long glass walls, outer rim tables and comfortable bar stools. It feels light, airy and spacious, even though it’s really just a single big room.
Granger & Co looks toward Australia for its heart. This is Oz through and through – sunny, breezy, amiable, relaxed. Bill Granger himself is known as a man who offers up a really good brunch, but clearly he does a great dinner, too. Unfussy, tasty and imaginative, with the kind of trendy menu one expects from 21st-century metropolitan food – small dishes, grains, barbecue, raw, mixed ‘n’ matched. The food is light but just enough, inventive without being experimental, unpretentious and matey, with a contemporary panache.
I loved the tuna poke, whipped avocado, tofu & chia cracker – it’s his best dish in terms of flavours, combination, and freshness. My friend also loved the burrata with crushed tomatoes, miso aubergine and tofu. We washed it all down with a good white wine, adequate but not high-end.
Bill Granger has brought a kind of Aussie-style sunshine to King’s Cross. His dishes are well thought out, and they work. We went to relax and have fun, which is precisely what you can do at Granger, while eating well at the same time. Young, trendy foodies have realised this and fill it every night. As we left, the dancing fountains in the square had been lit up and we laughed with that warm glee that comes at the end of a good night.
Bill Granger says: ‘Kings Cross is the most connected place in London, and is set up for ideas – Central St Martins, the Francis Crick Institute and Google are a few of our neighbours. It’s a new creative hub and I’m thrilled to be part of it.’
Granger & Co
Unit 1 Stanley Building.
7 Pancras Square, London N1C 4AG
T: 020 3058 2567
New Place in Town:
Red velvet drapes, padded banquettes, gleaming gilt, live jazz band… you could be forgiven for thinking I’m about to review the Moulin Rouge, but it burned down in 1915. No; this, my friends, is the plush, lush and super swanky Park Chinois – Alan Lau’s high-end Chinese restaurant, a concept that has been inspired by the jazz clubs of 1930s Shanghai. It’s gloriously sumptuous, with the highest staff-to-diner ratio I’ve ever encountered. This isn’t just a first class meal in a top restaurant – it’s an experience, and I loved every single OTT aspect of it.
Can this lavish indulgence really be the offspring of the same man who brought us the pared-down, minimalist Wagamama? He was kind of halfway there with Duck and Rice in Soho, but Park Chinois flaunts expense account-style luxury on a whole new level. The best-kept (but actually best-known) secret is that you have to pre-order the house speciality Cantonese duck, as it is cooked to order. Yes yes, I hear you say, I can take or leave the duck pancake thing. This ain’t no duck pancake thing; this is a succulent, tender, slow-roasted bird with gloriously gleaming crisped skin.
Everyone gets a dish of cucumber and spring onions, a steamer with pancakes, a dish of hoisin sauce and, best of all, a water bowl with – get this – properly HOT water (none of that tepid stuff). This duck is a meal in itself – it warrants a review of its own – and it doesn’t even need the pancakes, but we also tucked into dim sum, Shanghai salad with Chinese mushrooms and edamame, wonderfully sweet and succulent blackened cod and perfectly-steamed bok choy.
We were stuffed, but the desserts – who could refuse ‘Summer Refreshing’ on a summer’s night? Delicately poached peach with raspberry sorbet and coconut crumble.
I could go on… about the cocktails (mine was bitter orange, raspberry & champagne), the wines (a glass of ‘Brangelina Miraval’ for me – hubby stuck to the whiskies), the fabulous jazz band that was crooning in the background, the people-watching, the wonderfully attentive service, the sense of occasion, the stunningly sumptuous décor and the side-by-side mezzanine seating.
To sum up, in three words: marvellous, magnificent, memorable. Go! (And make sure you visit the toilets!)
17 Berkeley St, London W1J 8EA
T: 020 3327 8888
On the side
Taste of Japan
Koyama is a great new addition to the burgeoning restaurant scene on Child’s Hill. Husband-and-wife team Joosun & SungJae are on a mission to deliver an authentic Japanese culinary experience to north-west London. Dishes are expertly prepared and beautifully presented. This fabulous little place will satisfy all tastes.
Dial a Salad
Every Tuesday and Wednesday between 11:30am and 2pm, Ben Spiers sells colourful, inventive salads from the phone box in Bloomsbury Square, two minutes from Holborn tube station. Yes really! Choose from however many of five home-made salads you fancy, pick ‘n’ mix style, and top with, for example, pomegranate molasses and chilli-roasted chicken or baked salmon, if you wish. Salads change with the seasons and are constantly reinvented. They are hearty, healthy and full of protein, nutrients and minerals. Salad dodgers prepare to be converted!
Slice of Mill Hill
I was already a big fan of Bluebelles in Mill Hill and Portobello and now they have upped their game in the cake stakes with a mouthwatering range including Lammingtons, loaf cakes (choose from lemon & poppy seed, carrot, cinnamon, gluten free orange & almond, dairy free blackberry & apple), red velvet and chocolate & Guinness cake. Bluebelles is also great for coffee, full blown brunch or a light lunch. Cakes are available to take home, too!
On a trip to the theatre last week, I was excited to see hoardings around a restaurant site on St Martin’s Lane showing that Fumo is opening there. Fumo is part of the San Carlo group, which owns 17 restaurants including Cichetti in Piccadilly and Covent Garden and Signor Sassi in Knightsbridge. There is a branch of Fumo in Manchester and another in Birmingham, and the London site opens early in September. Expect delicious Italian small plates (ciccheti) including gnocchi truffle!