The Great Northern Hotel takes its signals from the King’s Cross railway station that surrounds and dominates it. The livery looks swanky; the prices are high. It successfully evokes the glamour of travel rather than the drudge of commuting. The GNH even hired an ex-Ramsay celebrity chef back in the spring. Yet Mark Sargeant’s arrival was later than a First Capital Connect service – months, in fact, after the dining room opened to the public. In the meantime, the kitchen was idling in a siding.
Now ‘Sarge’ is in charge, Plum & Spilt Milk should be on the right track. Many dishes are assembled, rather than cooked. Minimal intervention is a good thing when the ingredients are first-rate, for example in our starter plate of charcuterie. The celeriac remoulade that came with it was a nice touch, although the titular plum garnishing the plate made it resemble a ploughman’s lunch. Toast topped with broad bean paste, pea shoots and crumbled Caerphilly cheese was also a simple but much more successful combination – the best dish we tried, as it turned out.
The menu’s British, in the very broadest sense. So British it includes monkfish curry, juicy and well-spiced, but served with slightly overcooked and oversalted rice, not the pilaf described on the menu. A vegetarian main course of potato dumplings – gnocchi, as the Italians would call it – were oversized and pan-fried. Without the pretty garnishes, they could resemble something reheated in a buffet car. The cocktails and wine service were, however, excellent; there are also two bars attached to the restaurant.
Save the Great Northern Hotel for drinks or business meals when travelling via King’s Cross – because flawed or not, it’s still the best place to eat at King’s Cross station, and is particularly good for breakfast.