As well as its other exciting developments this year, King’s Cross has finally become a proper foodie destination, boasting some of the tastiest grub in the capital. We’ve rounded up the some of the best new restaurants to land this year – in no particular order. And it’s worth mentioning that we’ve included useful spots to pick up lunch at less than a tenner – as well as the top-flight new N1C destinations.
VermuteriaAnthony Demetre (of ex Soho institution Arbutus) has dreamt up Vermuteria, a casual spot centred on vermouth in aperitifs, cocktails and food pairings. The interior is convincingly authentic, all brickwork within-the-arches and wooden beams, not to mention drinks-related memorabilia and endless shelves of (not dusty at all) vermouth bottles. Highlights on our visit (vermouths aside) included octopus tenderly braised for an hour after “being blanched three times”, and venison ragu with gnocchi and the push of fennel, herbs and n’duja. In short, its keen pricing (most dishes are lesser than a tenner) makes it a real neighbourhood gem. 38 Coal Drops Yard N1C, read our full review here.
BarrafinaHappy to endure a spot of peak-time queuing? If so, it’s business as usual for Soho’s iconic tapas bar in its lofty new canalside home. Recent highlights over our two visits to date have included arguably the city’s greatest (and most garlicky) pan con tomate, smeared with vivid red tomato as rich as jam; rosy lamb chops, given a Majorcan nod with tumbet (potato, aubergine and red pepper); and seared presa iberica, sliced crimson on a slick of ajo blanco. Meanwhile head downstairs for sister opening Casa Pastor and the likes of spicy tuna tostadas, chargrilled stone bass tacos and grilled corn-on-the-cob with chipotle and lime mayo. Neighbouring wine bar The Drop completes an enviable triumvirate. Coal Drops Yard N1, read our full review here.
Coal OfficeTalented chef Asaaf Granit, of The Barbary and Palomar fame, seems to have wowed everybody with this smart new co-venture with British interiors legend Tom Dixon. Housed in a Victorian building that follows the curve of the Regent’s Canal and is spread across three floors, there are outdoor terraces, a bakery, eating counter and two dining areas. The menu breaks down into small, ‘in between’ and big plates: try a Moroccan fennel salad with oranges, olives, almonds, harissa and herbs, or Machneyuda’s polenta (above), served in a cute copper pot which the waiter shaves liberally with black truffle. Elsewhere we recommend seared tuna tataki, glossily red, with cured lemon aioli and date confit, piled on shivkia, a savoury twist on a Moroccan pastry. One to take your foodiest mate. 2 Bagley Walk N1C, read our full review here.
HicceChef Pip Lacey (ex-Murano) and co-owner with Gordy McIntyre have launched this airy 80-cover restaurant situated on the top floor of lifestyle store Wolf & Badger and it’s hard not to be dazzled by the space: big west-facing leaded windows allow pleasing daylight in during the winter months and can also opt to perch at the open kitchen counter, as we did. The menu includes mainly wood-fired dishes with lots of grilling, steaming and smoking, with the all-day section featuring a selection of charcuterie, cheese, fermented vegetable jars and cured fish (£2-8 each). Particularly recommended is cured octopus, served room-temperature with fennel, seaweed and grapes; or charred, blackened cauliflower with calcots and dabbed with rich, nutty romesco. Wolf & Badger, Coal Drops Yard, N1C, read our full review here.
RotundaYes, this isn’t strictly a new opening but its expensive recent refurb is such that it feels entirely fresh – and a real competitor for the much-hyped Coal Drops big-hitters. The Kings Place staple now has an open-to-view kitchen and a 12-seat chef’s counter, with diners able to sit and watch the goings-on (which include on-trend gadgets like a Big Green Egg charcoal grill). Try the delicate lamb tartare, still not especially common on London menus; or plump for the best ribeye outside Hawksmoor (not surprising really, with the Rotunda’s “gate to plate” ethos). A real star item? A just-opaque piece of pearly monkfish grilled on the robata. In short, it’s destination cooking – with prices to match. 90 York Way N1, read our full review here.
Happy FaceA new 130-seater pizzeria below the Everyman Cinema, this is a riff on a classic Neapolitan joint, from the team behind pricier music-bar Spiritland. Interestingly, it’s the polar opposite of its flagship, being vast, democratic and good-value: in its brightly lit space, crammed full of twentysomethings, you can work your way through a short, crowd-pleasing menu of authentic pizza, made using a 72-hour dough ferment. The key thing here is price, with pizzas hovering between £5-10, and a negroni only £6.50 (a drink with a slice is just £5 at lunchtime). In short, it’s a welcome, answer to the spendy options around Granary Square and Coal Drops Yard. 14-18 Handyside Street N1C, more info here.
MiddlEatNeed another budget option in the area? This slightly #awks-named streetfood joint is – no prizes for guessing here – “inspired by the vibrant flavours of the Middle East.” Their schtick? The design-your-own bowl thing, where you pick a base, a filling and a ‘protein’ (why do we hate that word?) from a counter heaving with all manner of colourful plant and non-plant items. The bowls, from £6.25, are well-priced and huge: a ‘Zaha’ comprises falafel, nutty toasted freekah, slivers of raw beetroot and tangy sumac. You can add any, or all, of the “trimmings”, including hummus, shredded carrots, pickled turnips, red onion, tahini sauce, garlic sauce, chilli sauce. Maximum vits – and delish, to boot. 13 Caledonian Road N1, read our review here.
Main Image: Barrafina, PR