Age: A nimble five months: Magenta King’s Cross is a recent post-lockdown arrival.
Where exactly is it? It’s part of the colourfully painted Megaro, the landmark corner hotel directly opposite King’s Cross station on the Euston Road. The new restaurant was formerly a Barclay’s Bank, the latest addition to boutique accommodation that opened back in 2018.
OK. So what goes on there? Magenta majors on imaginative Northern Italian fare – with a London sensibility – curated by exec chef Manuele Bazzoni, who’s headed up the kitchens at Mayfair’s Le Boudin Blanc, and Trinity Clapham.
The interior? Attention-grabbing: designed by British artist and designer Henry Chebaane, the steampunk-style decor is historic and garish in equal doses. Slightly overlit, at least until the dimmer switch came into play, it’s almost a giant art installation, riffing on the area’s industrial past with its palette of coal, oak and steel, overlaid with bright magenta fabrics (see main pic, above). To add to the surrealness of the experience, hundreds of pink and silver butterflies flutter overhead, the soundtrack unexpectedly cinematic.
Okaay. What should I eat? You can choose two courses at £35, three for £42, four at £52, or the cheaper set lunch (£22-25 for two or three courses). There are lots of extras, from tasty amuse bouches to a unique charcoal flour bread (pictured above), served warm with a rich Sicilian olive oil. An early meal highlight, we had to resist scoffing the whole thing and peaking too early.
What worked? The best plates were arguably the simplest: a crispy single cannellone of white Dorset crab (above) was elevated by preserved lemon gel, a whorl of rich brown crab bisque jelly adding umami and depth. Tuna tartare (below), served theatrically on pebbles, was silken and ruby, its blobs of tart raspberry vinegar and buffalo mozzarella emulsion more successful than that combo might suggest. And a main of suckling pork, served both as slow-cooked bonbon and in tender cutlets, with a savoury jus, was expertly balanced by salt-baked celeriac, sliced apple and fennel, a strip of crackling adding salty bite.
What wasn’t as successful? Our other main, a piece of perfectly cooked halibut, coated in lardo and swathed in a luxurious nasturtium butter sauce, was smeared with a mushroom ‘jam’ that was in danger of overpowering its delicately opaque flesh. And we wanted to like the two pasta courses more than we did: a vermouth and lavender sauce was a tad too floral for the handmade scallop raviolo (although the golden seared scallop on top was spot-on); and agnolotti, filled with slow-cooked beef and smoked creme fraiche, fell just short of a wow factor, despite the crunch of hazelnuts and a lick-the-plate-clean beef jus.
Desserts? An espresso coffee mousse and dark chocolate sorbet, speared with pastry shards and adorned with swirling chocolate sauce, wasn’t bad; more memorable was the Amalfi lemon curd, which yielded a tangy acidity, countered by mellow olive oil, textural interest upped by crumble and meringue.
And what do I drink? Signature cocktails play with the “flavours and heritage of King’s Cross”, says the blurb: a White Sbagliato of Rinomato bianco vermouth, Italicus Bergamont liqueur and prosecco proved a quaffable livener, while an Authentic Sour, of white wine, Luxardo gin, lemon, egg white and syrup was a little sweet, at least for our tastebuds. Wine naturally showcases vineyards across Italy and is well-priced for Zone 1, with 500ml carafes from £18: a fairly neutral Puglian Verdeca matched the crab and tuna, while trusty old Montepulciano did its full-bodied thing on the mains.
What’s the service like? 100% delightful: the smiley and welcoming staff are knowledgeable, extremely keen to offer recommendations, and the food is served, importantly, at the right pace. Portion-sizing – so key when eating a multi-course meal, with extras – is spot-on. We left satisfied – and far from staggering.
The verdict: Overall, Magenta King’s Cross is an enjoyably quirky experience: once honed further, its thoughtful cooking, and smooth professionalism, could ultimately prove as destination as some of Granary Square’s and Coal Drops Yard’s finest.
Gasholder ate as guests of Magenta King’s Cross. For more on our restaurant review policy see our About section.