Restaurants, Delis St Pancras
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rob greig

Fancy Granary Square and its flashy eateries – Dishoom, Granary Square Brasserie, The Lighterman and so on – might be the shiny face of ‘new’ King’s Cross, but the area to the east, below Pentonville Road, is still pretty dingy. Niven’s, though, is a little beacon of light against the darkness of King’s Cross Road. A rustic and cosy café/provisions store with a crammed counter space, a single scuffed wooden communal table and shelves full of dog-eared cookbooks and Kilner jars, it does a neat line in home-cooked fare that, while hardly refined, is both hearty and comforting.

There’s a range of hot tray-baked bits (pastas, pies, curries and so on), plus chunky salads and sandwiches on offer (including a knowing Brindisa homage/rip-off roll with thick-cut chorizo, sweet piquillo pepper and rocket. Nice). A gargantuan slab of sausage, sweet potato and mixed veg pie was the standout on my visit: a helmet-sized flaky pastry case crammed with chorizo and (I think) merguez-spiced pig, odds and ends of broccoli and cauliflower, pomegranate seeds and a dry tomato sauce buzzing with chilli. Add a side of cream-heavy celeriac-and-mushroom gratin and the threat of a mid-afternoon carb coma was rendered very real indeed.

Beef lasagne had a slightly one-note flavour that screamed ‘Sunday night supper’ – and was that cream in the ragú? – but was inarguably warming. A massive, sage-flecked chicken escalope looked a picture and was excellently moist, but remained a bit of an elevated caff dish.

Each plate, with a main and a side, came to £8 – a bargain for the pie/gratin, but a bit steep for the otherwise smaller portions. Still, if you’re after unprepossessing, deli-style comfort grub in this part of town, Niven’s is by far your best (and only) bet.

By: Tom Howells


Venue name: Niven's
Address: 157 King's Cross Rd
Transport: Tube: King's Cross St Pancras
Price: Lunch for two with soft drinks (no service): around £20.
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Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Entering into this hidden gem, you are welcomed by a deli counter of different meats, fish and salads. Hello whole foods. You can choose from different size box's for food, £7, £9 and £11. I choose a £7 plate and was able to choose from the choice available. Straight away I was welcomed with whatever I wanted to choose, with no judgement. My eager eyes chose 7 different options :-P & certainly covered my 5 per day in one sitting. 

My friend chose salmon with rocket and 2 different salads which looked equally as satisfying.

Sitting down to a long table shared by others, I enjoyed the snug experience. I will certainly go for lunch again! High five!

For a small and snug deli/cafe/restaurant there were a surprisingly huge variety of hot pots of food on offer for lunch, all served up with delicious fresh vegetable sides. Pork cheek and bean stew, meat balls, sweet chilli chicken, gnocchi and more. Very warm and welcoming atmosphere and reasonably priced for high quality and imaginative home cooking. Wish it was nearer my usual tramping grounds, would highly recommend.

You have this listed as Clerkenwell? Four of us had breakfast her as we wanted somewhere good for breakfast. The breakfast is fantastic, we are all food fans so really like quality, this is the business. Five stars. Next time we are in London we will be there but there should be a place like this in every town in the country.

The salt beef is to die for, properly the best I've had outside of my late mother, have tried some other dishes and have always been very pleased with the quality and portions, But most all of one best things about Niven's is Niven, himself always friendly and warm and truly a joy to visit and have some really great nosh

Nivens is a great little cafe, super quality food and coffee and very friendly service. The sausage roll really is the best I have tasted anywhere in the world, no exaggeration!

Best sausage roll i ever had, all other food is fresh, delicious and inexpensive. Great service, neat homely cafe, couldnt be happier i accidentally stumbled inside. Time Out should really adjust their rating to at least a 4.5! Worth the trip :)

Niven's is a real gem, the food is gorgeous, tasty and fresh. I've been a regular for more than a year, and have yet to be disappointed. I don't understand how Time Out could rate it only 3/5.

You won't get a healthier, tastier, more filling lunch for the price in central London!

Niven's is legendary. Great food and lovely atmosphere. More like 4/5 stars. If you're reading this ignore Time Out's rating.