For those of you who know london, Grain Store is just behind St. Pancras station, in a new and upcoming part of North London called Kings Cross. Outside of the restaurant itself, is on an open spaced square with a striking fountain feature. The brick building looks like a factory with large windows and imposing beams. Once inside, Grain Store impresses by its sheer size. The industrial look is maintained and warmth is added through light features, wooden tables, quirky design features and a kitchen very much at the centre of it all. The interior is designed around the idea of the exploded kitchen, where the lines between kitchen and dining room are blurred. We are off to a good start.
As we were waiting for our better halves who were parking the car (the one downside to the whole dining experience), we were invited to sit at the bar. With January being a "detox" month for C. and I, we chose not to drink to make up for the excess of Christmas and New Year. Sure enough, Grain Store has a few intriguing non-alcoholic cocktails. What better choice than the "Roman Redhead?" Beetroot, verjus and red berries. Surprising but good. And it comes in a wine glass which fooled everyone into thinking that I was having a glass of wine. My friend J. opted for "Chamomile Lemonade" with chamomile syrup, lemon juice and soda. A bit like a virgin gin fizz. Refreshing and zingy!
Lets set aside the drinks and move on to the main feature. The food at Grain Store is both imaginative and inspiring. The chef, Bruno Loubet, has travelled the world and the result is visible on the plate. As a starter, I opted for seaweed and cucumber, green apple puree, pickled red currant and mackerel tartar. A hint of Japanese influence? The saltiness of the seaweed mixed well with the tang of the pickled red currants and the sweetness of the puree. The mackerel tartar is uncontestedly marvellous. C. opted for chargrilled endive, hazelnut crumble, prune vinegar and Bayonne ham. Just reading the menu gets your tastebuds singing. The presentation is neat and creative; a feast for the eyes before digging in. As a main, I chose the Vietnamese style salad, seatrout and squid a la plancha. This dish is all about texture: soft glass noodles, al dente carrots, crispy sea trout skin, and pleasantly chewy squid. A fresh explosion of flavours. C. went for the special of the day, which was prune and root vegetable gratin, red wine jus and fillet of venison. Rich, satisfying and with a hint of unexpected sweetness. Dessert was a no-brainer for me: warm frangipane apple tart with vanilla ice cream. Frangipane is one of my favourite ingredients and warm apple with cold vanilla ice cream is a match made in heaven. It was the perfect finish to this excellent meal. I will be back for more!