The Halal: This is cheating slightly as the Grain store does not serve halal meat but I felt it was worth including as I have never been to a restaurant that gave vegetables such a star presence on the menu! Alcohol and pork are served in this restaurant.
This is the newest offspring of Bruno Loubet and the Zetter group (of Bistrot Bruno Loubet and Zetter Townhouse).
The Place: Located in upcoming Granary square behind King’s Cross Station, the Grain Store is aptly situated in an old warehouse that stored wheat for Lincolnshire bakers in yesteryear. I preferred the vibe for Sunday brunch than for an evening meal for two reasons: the exposed brick walls and copper finishings look stunning in the natural light and there was a live pianist rocking out some uptempo tunes!
The Food: The menus are seasonal and keep changing but brunch options include the expected choices: a take on the full english breakfast, omlettes, pancakes, quinoa, breads for sharing and an assortment of small bites. We shared some mushroom arancini balls which were intensely earthy in flavour and presented on a miniature forest of pine cones and firs. I ordered the potato pancake with creamed leeks, poached duck’s egg and wasabi caviar which was playful with flavours however, the portion was huge and the egg yolk could have been more runny.
It’s always a good sign when food is thought-provoking and dinner at Grain Store certainly had us talking! As a group of five, we ordered different dishes from the menu and then grazed selectively from each other’s plates. One particular entree that stood out was the vegetarian merguez sausage with cauliflower couscous: not a trace of meat but fully hearty in flavour and texture. From the main courses, the black garlic and vanilla hake with braised pak choi tasted great but could have used a sauce to moisten the palate.
Mishaps on the menu included a potted plant of radishes with ‘whipped goats butter’. The radishes looked as though they had just been uprooted from the garden and the goats butter was tasteless. Wasabi soil only added more gimmickry to the dish. Another disappointment was the asparagus and tofu dish which could have used a heavy hand of seasoning.
Desserts were more interesting. Imagine a thai green curry… now convert this to a rice pudding and voila you have the coconut and kaffir lime tapioca! Highly unusual in flavour and I am still debating about whether this was in a good or bad way. The chocolate and red bean pudding with cardamom ice cream was a good choice: mellow and satisfying. The rhubarb rice pudding brulee had an interesting dimension of texture and flavour with tartness of rhubarb cutting through humble milky undertones.
The Price: £30-40 per person.
The Verdict: Grain Store Some highs and some lows – but the food will definitely have people talking!