A trip to Paris on the Eurostar might be the best way to indulge in an ooh-la-la French café experience, but what’s the next best thing? A trip to King’s Cross and a visit to this endearing little café – a mere boule’s-throw from the Eurostar terminal. Aux Pains de Papy already has a loyal following of office workers seeking their daily bread and satisfying lunchtime sandwiches, but it’s also worth seeking out for patisserie and boulangerie.
Compared to some of its other branches, the King’s Cross offshoot of Caravan is a grandiose urbane proposition – all concrete floors, girders and exposed pipework. The industrial-themed interior isn’t built for intimacy, but it still has a laid-back buzz and great people-watching opportunities. As expected, this outlet boasts welcoming, efficient staff and a menu of what they call ‘well-travelled food’ – ie plates of global fusion ranging from lamb ribs with chermoula to Burmese chicken salad.
Whirling ceiling fans, vintage Indian magazine ads and other retro wheezes set the scene for some post-colonial romping at this swish London take on an old ‘Irani café’. It’s all very design-conscious and slick, but there’s no arguing with the food – a spicy all-day repertoire running from bhel pooris to biryanis. Expect crazy queues in the evenings (check booking restrictions), though the basement bar is a godsend.
The King’s Cross area is scrubbing up nicely – so nicely that you need to look hard to find a discarded cardboard cup of builder’s tea. With the opening of this little outpost of a royalty-endorsed tea room inside St Pancras station, the gentrification is being buffed to a shine. Signature loose leaf teas, posh preserves and hamper goodies make a fetching display in the international terminal’s gift shop, while the café – a crown jewel of refined light bites – is the perfect setting in which to put the world to rights over the clink of fine china.
The name may conjure up visions of towels on treadmills, but D&D London’s extravagant reboot of London’s first gymnasium is in the business of piling on the calories – rather than sweating them off. A top pick for business lunches, it also serves up its goulash soups, schnitzels, strudels and other Teutonic comforts to early birds, daytime hordes and night owls. Thankfully, portions are restrained – no need to book a workout afterwards.
A paean to the glories of Victorian gothic architecture, this spectacularly resurrected hotel is also home to Marcus Wareing’s eclectic take on British cuisine – although it’s not pitched as a temple to fine dining. Instead, visitors can chill out and marvel at the dramatic interiors before tackling some top victuals – perhaps Dorset crab with quince and fennel or Goosnargh duck breast with pumpkin. Meanwhile, cracking weekend roasts will have you whistling ‘Rule Britannia’!
Venue says With dishes inspired by seasonal British produce, enjoy three courses and a cocktail for £30 in one of London's most iconic restaurants.
The King’s Cross outpost of Aussie Bill Granger's all-day sunny-side-up eatery references just about every on-trend fad and fashion on the current foodie agenda: small plates, grains, Korean riffs, Hawaiian-style poké bowls, Thai curries and all sorts of multicultural stuff besides. Granger is also known for giving good brunch, and this spot has the added bonus of in-demand alfresco tables on a quiet piazza.
Theodore Kyriakou seems to have the Midas touch: having founded The Real Greek, he’s now set up this new venture on a barren industrial site just north of King’s Cross. It certainly looks good, with warehouse interiors evoking the old country, Aegean-green detailing and shelves lined with native produce. There’s plenty to cheer on the mezze-style menu, although those little plates quickly add up. Alternatively, invest in a pimped-up stew or something from the grill.
Japanese, vegan and organic? What’s not to love – and, rest assured, we do love this cool little miracle near King’s Cross station. Only the slurping of noodles disturbs the place’s Zen-like tranquillity, as punters dip into a virtuously healthy menu that makes the most of a few key ingredients (expects lots of tofu and seaweed). Laid-back staff go with the flow, while zealous foodie workshops, art exhibitions and live music make Itadaki even more lovable.
With a hyper-coloured graffiti mural outside, flourishing rooftop garden and funky ‘urban earth’ design, Karpo could easily come across as a style-over-content joint. Thankfully, the food delivers innovative flavours, staff are friendly, and the location is ideal for an easy-going dinner date or friendly catch-up. Meaty Josper grills take the honours, alongside dishes such as Gressingham duck breast with fig compote; otherwise, nip downstairs for nibbles and cocktails in the candlelit bar.
Venue says Karpo grill offers great steaks from Britain, aged a minimum of 28 days, complemented by fun dishes from far and beyond.
Want more tip-top joints nearby?
Fitzrovia’s aura of upper-crust bohemia is perfectly encapsulated by its quality mix of maximalist and minimalist restaurants
Sodo started as a popup at the E5 Bakehouse before setting up shop just up the road, with success spawning sister sites in Hoxton and Walthamstow. I’ve been to this branch a few times now and only once has it not been heaving with typically hairy east London sorts. They’re not here for the decor. Describing Sodo as ‘rough around the edges’ would be harsh on rough edges. It’s brightened up no end by Italian staff with accents as thick as bricks – plus there’s a nice little garden out the back – but Sodo’s certainly not a looker. The pizza, of course, is the draw. Margheritas never have a lot to hide behind and ours here was superb: the Neapolitan-style sourdough (Sodo, geddit?) base was thin, crisp, delicious, and topped with good quality tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil. The ‘winter goat’ was even better, with goat’s cheese, walnuts, caramelised onions and olives scattered liberally but judiciously for a balanced and brilliant combo. Craft beer from the likes of Beavertown and Fourpure keep the beards fluffed.