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21 July 2016

discovering grain store, king's cross

i'd heard only good things about chef bruno loubet's innovative and sustainable granary square restaurant, grain store (get it - granary square? grain? no.. ok), so the minute the invite popped into my inbox to join a host of fabulous foodies at an opentable event there last week, with the hope to celebrate the organic way that great food brings people together, i was excited. 

and even more so when i discovered a good handful of my favourites were also going to be there, and then more again when i looked over the menu for the first time and truly got a sense of what i'd be in for...

the restaurant is only a quick walk from king's cross station, and so very easy to find; sat right on the bank of the canal it's the perfect place for an after-work drink or pre-train lunch (cocktail), if that's more your thing. sadly, it was a bit muggy and-also-rainy, so we quickly darted in and de-layered all of our unnecessary clothes rather than sit and people watch, which is seriously one of my favourite pastimes. 

after a quick chat with some familiar faces and a brief introduction from chef bruno and a couple of the reps from opentable who'd joined us all the way from nyc to welcome us to the #connectedbtot family, we grabbed our welcome cocktails and took our seats.

our starters came in the form of plate of atlantic kitchen seaside toast; potato bread, seaweed butter (sorry, what?), oyster leaves and flower, pickled samphire and cucumber, with a glass of a sherry that i simply could not swallow. it's a cool day in hell that i find a white wine that i don't like, but this one was so potent and tasted so much of aniseed, that i just had to stick to water. and really, the table water allowed every single flavour from the dish really shine, without being overpowered by a strong wine.

i'm sorry, seaweed butter? straight from the butter vikings in jersey, this butter was thick and salty and udderly (sorry) tasty. the tang from the pickled veg cut right through and perfectly balanced the salt from the bitter, and then the hearty potato bread (who knew either of those things could get better?!) heartily mopped it all up and married those two flavour sensations together. one dish down, and in utter heaven. except for the wine; bring on round two!

the pasta course came in the form of organic vegetable ravioli in tomato consome, with herbs oil. first things first: at first look, this dish was super colourful and i was excited to get stuck in. the pasta parcels were made up of beet, butternut squash, spinach, tomatoes, and carrots and peppers, and served up in a oily broth that smelled of nothing but tomato soup. odd, considering it was a clear broth! we were impressed and inquisitive, and so got stuck right in.

the tomato flavour was truly the main recognisable taste. each of the parcels had their own unique flavours, of course - except the tomato one which tasted like more of the same, but the rich, hearty veg flavours were still there. the tomato broth was very overpowering and i preferred the parcels on their own, but the whole dish was delectable! the wine for this course was much better too, keep that one flowing, chaps.

the grain store has a bit of a reputation of being a vegetarian restaurant, but it's not. what it is, is a restaurant run by a creative man, who's tried to spin the way we look at food. instead of meat and three veg, chef bruno has created a menu championing vegetables, with meat seen as an additional ingredient - a dish enhancer, but not the hero of the table. which is a rare thing, don't you think. until this course, we'd not experienced a meat dish, nor were we expecting one. but then it came, and we were happy.

raspberry pickled red veggies, grilled squash, seared venison filet, and a fermented corn brioche bun were to be our main course. as if the toast from round one didn't serve to put me in a carb coma, this dense brioche bun was something sent straight from the heavens. a giant slab of clotted butter melted slowly on each slice, and i'm not gonna lie, i definitely ate more than my share of that particular bread! the rest of it was bloody special too; haven't had venison in such a long time, but it was marinated and cooked so tenderly that it fell apart as easily as the artichoke heart it was served on.

when it came to desserts, i was sure i'd be too full. then i saw that it was urban honey roasted peach melba and ordered ten. i didn't really, though i certainly could have eaten ten, they were that delish. spun honey helmets sat atop an open poached peach with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream within, and a crusty cigar sealed the deal. mine was gone in about seven seconds, and i'm not ashamed to admit it either. the last wine of the evening was easily a fave, so kudos to the sommelier who's picks were perfection - except for that nasty sherry to start (who starts with a sherry?).

we were guests of grain store for a good number of hours, and it was so totally worth it. i've been building a list of places to take mum when she finally arrives, and this has seriously just been added to the list. totally affordable, but also wholly sustainable, with produce coming from local gardens and organic traders around the uk to ensure the best and tastiest flavours.

yes, we were guests on the night, but if i didn't love it, i wouldn't be telling you about it, would i. so a massive thank you to opentable for popping my grain store cherry; i'll be back again soon!

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