Sunday, 29 September 2013

Grain Store: can I go back already?

"Surprise!", well that's the name of the menu we had. But it shouldn't really have been. Grain Store is Bruno Loubet's new place. Of course it was going to be good. I just didn't know it was going to be this good. This generous. This fun.

King's Cross is growing up. The teenage years of all night raves seem a distant memory. Gentrification is working its wily way. Gone (almost) are the sleazy bars and warehouse clubs (much to Mr Meantime's disappointment). In their place, plush flats and restaurants. Set in a large warehouse next to (the rather disappointing) Caravan, is Grain Store. It's all open plan New York warehouse, the kitchen stretches along one side, colanders for light shades, friendly waiters a hive of activity.  No table cloths, lots of smiles - no pretence. I was hooked by the time I had the first sip of my truffle martini (okay, so maybe there's a little pretence).

The courtyard outside The Grain Store: gentrification in motion
You can either choose from the menu or go with whatever Bruno has decided is best that day - the "Surprise" menu. It's not a tasting menu, you share four different starters, then each have the same main and desert.

Up first: tender octopus; peppers; punctuated with coco beans. Rich with smoked paprika, it may well have introduced itself with an "Hola" and demanded a cerveza. I loved it.  There was also yoghurt flat bread topped with carrot spread and grated carrot. Not something I would have chosen from the menu, but it worked.

There followed a hulking whale of an aubergine, chopped in half, the middle scooped out and stuffed with tomato sauce and lamb: a novel moussaka. And no, that's not a mirror, it was a half an aubergine between two; a whole aubergine for the table of four. We also had girolles and (wood-scorched) leaks. Simple, bold flavours - although I wish they had left a bit of the "scorch" on the leeks - they were peeled, tender, but they had lost a bit of that smoky oomph!

We were starting to think that the moussaka and mushrooms had been mains - we were filling up. But no, there was much more to come. Christmas had arrived early. On a plate. Roasted partridge replaced the turkey. Baked celeriac the brussels. Pickled red cabbage brought snow drifts to mind.  A roasted greengage - summer fruit eaten in the depths of winter. It made me want to snuggle up with a wood fire and a dram - cosy food.

Finally we were brought a chocolate and red bean pudding, with ginger ice cream. The fiery ginger made for some of the best ice cream I have ever had. Sat alongside, a rich chocolate pudding surrounded by crumbs of what tasted like oreos, and a rich bean sauce. "I don't really like chocolate" I said. The plate was licked clean.

Before we left Grain Store, we booked our return visit - a group of twelve this time. We are all going for another "Surprise!". I, for one, can't wait! 

Grain Store on Urbanspoon

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