Two cool London restaurants to check out
It is testament to how monumentally uncool I am that I made a big fuss of telling a business acquaintance that I’d booked our meeting at the Chiltern Firestation in Marylebone, when in fact it is, as everyone knows, the Chiltern Firehouse *groan*.
But there you go, I don’t get too worked up about these things because when I go to supercool venues, I usually feel a bit sniggery and silly anyway. Better not to take any of it too seriously.
The Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone is the celebrity haunt that, daily, rolls its David Beckhams, Carla Devilingne and Rita Oras up in its big red carpet hug and spews them out into its rarified Victorian interiors. As I rarely make it into London, when I do go in, I try to meet in places I’ve never been before, and as luck would have it, your hapless correspondent struck it lucky on a breakfast table. I’d have had no such luck at dinner, but for a brunchy/lunchy type thing I’d recommend calling to check on bookings. These places are not always as chocca as you think they’ll be.
It being riddled with celebs – or at least a whole load of good looking hipsters pretending to be famous – there was no taking photos, but *cough* I realised it a little too late, and had already taken a whole whopper load of pics to show you. Oops!
Pretty no? To be brief, it’s a mightily attractive restaurant/bar/cocktail lounge/hotel, a former firestation (AHA!!) in the gothic style externally with a real Victorian/modern mix within. A 26 suite 5 star hotel and it feels every bit as luxurious as it sounds. The service was superb, and my poached eggs on avocado and rye bread was delicious.
It’s a bit churlish to go somewhere beautiful and complain about prices but I shall show my low origins and moan that I’m not sure that I can ever justify paying £14 for eggs on toast – even poached ones with added avocado – unless the eggs are actually made of gold. The champagne mark up was extraordinary too, so I ended up with a brunch for two that cost around £70. I don’t regret it for a second because it was fun, and sometimes it’s a great feeling to feel a bit frittery with the cash, but that’s definitely the spirit in which you need to visit this place.
Slightly less harrassing on the wallet (I said slightly) and with a more chilled out vibe was Granger & Co in King’s Cross a few weeks later, below.
When I lived in Islington a decade or so ago, I vividly remember the new lot of ‘executive’ flats being built in King’s Cross. We loved the prices but it was too still too rough as guts to contemplate a move KC way. Now the area is awash with cool places. Central St Martin’s, The Guardian offices, King’s Cross pond club (an outdoor natural swimming pond in the middle of the KC development), St Pancras hotel and the restaurants around Granary Square have transformed the area. Bill Granger for me is the icing on the cake. I’m a massive fan, but if you’re not already familiar with Bill, he’s basically an Aussie Jamie Oliver (with a better tan), a family man who demystifies cooking, and creates amazing-tasting recipes that never seem to have more than four elements. He’s amazing.
Anyway, Mr Granger is quietly expanding his London empire, and Granger & Co in King’s Cross is his third restaurant in the capital. This place is all light and air and banquette-seat-and-retro-lighted good taste.
I can’t make a judgment on how it feels around this area at night, but it’s a really lovely and geographically useful place to meet friends for lunch, particularly if you’re both coming from opposite sides of the Hame Cainties. I had avocado on toast – yes again, what are you, my mother?! – for £11 this time, and a peppermint tea served in gorgeous grey ceramic pots.
I did mean to scoot around King’s Cross a bit before I went home but I ran out of time. Just snapped this cool looking physical art on the way back to the tube.
But this is one bit of London I’ll definitely return to and give you a proper update. There’s fun to be had in these ere parts, and no need for a red carpet to make it happen for you.