Caravan King’s Cross.
We had a little taxi-drama – he couldn’t find it and we went down a number of dead ends, before working out that one has to walk across the bridge.
But the bridge is impressive, especially at night, leading to a water feature which is as wonderful as it is unexpected. I’m glad that there are security guards, though, because on my own, at night, I’m not sure that I would feel entirely safe. Notwithstanding the glamification, it is still the back end of Kings Cross. And it’s dark.
The restaurant is contained in the same warehouse building as St Martin’s School of Art. There is a small sign, resting on the wall. I never thought I would say it, but you can take minimalism too far.
And once you do actually make it inside, the space is impressive. Industrial chic, with very high ceilings, it has the feel of something you might find in New York. And there is a coffee roastery at the back which I would like to explore.
And they had warned my friend that we had to share a refectory table. I suspect that this is meant for “drop-ins,” late bookings and for those few who actually like the idea of sharing a table with strangers. And for those who don’t make a fuss. But it wasn’t my booking, so I couldn’t say anything. No, not even me.
And because I was early, I had ordered myself a very refreshing Campari spritzer. Campari, Prosecco and lime. It didn’t taste lethal, but my later tactlessness made me realise that it was, perhaps, stronger than I thought.
So we were asked to sit on the refectory table, right in the middle of the restaurant we were placed right at the very end of it. Three on a refectory table just doesn’t work. No-one else sat at the table throughout our whole meal. And there were lots of free tables. So that made me very happy.
And I think that most people would probably go for the sharing plates here, indeed, one is encouraged to do so; but because the three of us are all quite, shall we say, particular, we couldn’t decide on what to share. Or whether to. So we didn’t.
And thus we cobbled together an almost conventional meal, between the three of us. Given that the word sharing had been used, I felt it only right that we get into the spirit, so notwithstanding the not sharing thing, we ordered an extra dish, to share. Cold meats and piquillo peppers were chosen and very good they were too. Long, luscious, pale green peppers, pickled. The sort you get in Turkish restaurants; not too strong, but crisp and sharp. Contrasted well with the richness of the meats.
A salad of such things of loveliness as broad beans, pumpkin and peashoots with flatbread would normally be just my cup of tea. And indeed, the menu was so full of things that I found very attractive that I texted C, before the food arrived, telling him we had to come for the brunch the very next day. But, as is often the case with me when I get over-excited, I jumped the gun.
The reality was somewhat under-seasoned and lacking in punch. Like something fridge-cold, where the flavours haven’t yet developed properly. The flatbreads were small thick triangles and too hard. Just not right. I love broad beans and I love pumpkin and indeed I love flatbread.
But here, this was less than the sum of its parts.
For our main course, lamb and chickpea tagine, on a bed of couscous. It was competent and indeed, comforting, but again a bit lacking in interest. I felt that the yogurt was gratuitous and added little except yogurt. I’m all for yogurt to counter a little heat and to add texture, but it wasn’t needed here. Not that much meat in it either. The sort of thing that I might make at home for a Sunday night supper. Comfort cooking, but not exciting. It needed some extra oomph to lift it from the fairly bland.
We did that whole “would you like to order a dessert /we’ll just look at the menu ” routine. A butterscotch crème pot with salted shortbreads spoke to all three of us simultaneously. It was extremely dense. Possibly the most dense crème pot I’ve ever had. The salted shortbreads were good but couldn’t meet the density challenge and broke when faced with the texture of baked cheesecake. I couldn’t actually finish it. That hardly ever happens in my world.
And there was music, but we only noticed it after about 9.30. My friend, who is far more cultured than I will ever be, remarked that the only music, acceptable to him whilst eating would be that played by a minstrel in a gallery, so the 70’s disco classics weren’t, I imagine, entirely to his taste. But it wasn’t a bad choice for the time of year and it is the sort of place where you can still hear yourself speak notwithstanding the noise. Which, given the said tactlessness, was a shame.
I’m not sure why I didn’t quite get this. I love this sort of food. I also like this sort of easy-going place, even if I am a decade too old to carry it off. I just didn’t think the cooking was quite up to the mark. I love the look of the brunch menu and think that may be worth a separate visit and I like the whole coffee thang and the care they lavish on it, which, alone, should make a second trek worthwhile. But on this showing, I won’t be rushing back for dinner.