If I had a pound for every time I Googled 'Where’s good to eat in Kings Cross' I… would probably be able to afford a slap-up dinner at Decimo. Despite its prime location and a doubtless eye-watering amount of regeneration money, Kings Cross still seems to lack that intangible vibe that makes a neighbourhood somewhere Londoners flock to of a weekend.
That probably explains the 'special occasion' prices and clientele at Decimo, a Spanish-Mexican eatery located on the 10th floor of The Standard hotel. High above the Euston Road, chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias has created a buzzing mid-century lounge filled with cacti, succulents and terracotta tiles. This is a see and be seen restaurant, with most tables being taken up by groups of friends struggling with the low-lighting to document every dish or couples shyly grinning over a bottle of tempranillo on that all important third date.
Decimo’s wide-ranging menu invites diners to begin with small plates all tapas fans will recognise – tortilla, jamon, croquettas – before moving on to a more than substantial second half featuring meat, fish and a range of vegetable mains. A word of advice – stay put in the para picars. The single ham and cheese croquetta is as good as any I’ve had in Spain, oozing salty, smoky goodness. The simply named bread and oil turns out to be a mountain of chargrilled sourdough chunks swimming in olive oil I have to stop myself drinking with a spoon. We’re confused when the server sets down a small marble plinth holding what looks suspiciously like steak tartare only to be told this is the marinated peppers. Sweet peppers, muddled with tangy vinegar, smothered on oil-soaked scorched bread – it’s the best alternative pan con tomate I’ve had in London.
Elsewhere, the menu lets itself down. The pork tacos rely too heavily on smoky, earthy flavours that fall flat while the fillet of beef jars with the rest of the meal. It feels just plain wrong to be eating large cuts of meat after our small plates – the perfectly pink lamb rump doesn’t excite us nearly as much as the bread. A divisive item that pops up on every menu these days, the charred hispi cabbage is a welcome addition to break up the meat overload in the second course.
Looking up menus before going out for a meal is one of life’s greatest pleasures. The day before dinner at Decimo, I spot a single scallop for £16. I can’t tell if it’s proof the cost of living crisis has passed by or well and truly hit the upscale dining industry but I have to try it. It comes, alone in its shell with a modest drizzle of butter, sliced into four. It’s lovely but it’s… a scallop, no more no less.
Service-wise, it’s the mixed bag you come to expect from luxe establishments in central locations. While we were greeted with the utmost attention and enthusiasm, it takes a full hour from when we sit down for us to take our first bite of food. With an extensive mezcal menu on offer, we opt to have ours on the rocks with a pair of smoky margaritas that go down easy. Drinks orders are few and far between, which is good news for our hangovers but takes away from the relaxed, lounge vibe that they’re clearly going for.
Still, you can’t beat the view from that glass elevator.
The vibe Mid-century cocktail lounge serves up tasty tapas
The food Stand out small plates steal the show
The drink Mezcal is having a moment, nowhere more so than here
Time Out tip Avoid weekends if you’re a fan of getting a second round of drinks in