By Lauren Bravo, The Guardian
Every gourmet knows that a good meal is as much about atmosphere and company as it is about the food on your plate. And even in a stuffed-to-the-gills foodie landscape such as London, a brand new dining and shopping destination with a backstory makes for a mouthwatering combination.
Enter: Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, where the recipe is equal parts heritage and innovation. Beautifully preserved Victorian industrial architecture, boutiques and design installations are mixed with some of the capital’s most exciting dining experiences. From fresh talent and established names, to first-time concepts cosying up with acclaimed favourites and homegrown ingredients, Coal Drops Yard has something for everyone. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, elevenses, afternoon pick-me-ups and after-dinner cocktails are all on the menu – and so is a stroll along the canal, if you can manage it. Here are eight great places to bag a table for all budgets.
Born in Hackney in 2012, Rita’s quickly became a beloved east London institution. But here in a new home in N1C, Bodega Rita’s recipe of modern American classics with international flair has really stepped up its game. Inspired by the corner delis found across the US, Bodega Rita’s is a sandwich shop, but not as we know it. The menu is short but the sarnies are vast, piled high with global influences and textural twists. Try The Tony, a Joey Tribbiani of a sub packed with salami, prosciutto, smoked cheddar and chilli mayo. Get your chops around The Tingling Tower, a brioche bun filled with fiery Szechuan chilli chicken. Or take on The Highway Dan, the UK’s sexiest take on an egg and cress sandwich. It might be the best thing since … well, you know. And if you’re longing for a drink after all that food, you can quench your thirst with some wine and cocktails.
What do you get when you combine the king of contemporary interiors with one of the city’s most influential chefs? Half the restaurant climbing over each other to Instagram their lunch, is what. The lovechild of designer Tom Dixon and chef Assaf Granit – co-owner of The Palomar and The Barbary – everything at Coal Office is a picture, from the gilded light fittings and slate-grey crockery to the perfectly charred, tahini-drizzled and pistachio-strewn menu, which offers playful spins on Israeli, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Intrigued by “Josperized Aubergine 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6”? Curious as to what “Pizza from the Past” or “Plate for the Brave” might be? There’s only one way to find out.
Londoners are used to finding coffee bars in unexpected places (bike shops, bookshops, canal boats) – but how about a shop with an entire restaurant in it? Tucked away inside Wolf & Badger, alongside independent fashion, beauty and homeware brands, you’ll find hicce: a collaboration between Pip Lacey, former head chef at Michelin-starred Murano, and her long-time friend and business partner, Gordy McIntyre. Charcoal is a key player on the menu, with smoked and wood-fired dishes offset by fermented flavours, pickles, cured meat and fish, inventive vegetable plates and plenty of home-baked rye bread. The name hicce means “current, of the moment” in Latin, and it certainly doesn’t lie.
London loves a foodie sibling, and King’s Cross has welcomed its own outpost of Borough Market’s much-loved El Pastor with open arms. But a “little” sister this isn’t; it’s a sized-up taqueria with swagger, from its tequila-slinging bar to an expanded menu inspired by the Yucatan and Baja California regions. Heritage corn tortillas are made from scratch in-house every day, and piled with toppings to shake up everything you thought you knew about Mexican cuisine. Meanwhile, outside on the heated terrace, Plaza Pastor, you’ll find the three Ms: mezcal, music and Mexican rotisserie chicken. Mmm.
Le Café Alain Ducasse & Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse
A mouthful in more than just name, these chic spaces offer a taste of Parisian life par excellence, brought to Coal Drops Yard by the eponymous French chef. At Le Café Alain Ducasse, you can sip fantastic signature and single-origin coffees, roasted at La Manufacture de Café Alain Ducasse in Paris, and served alongside chocolates and freshly-baked madeleines for that true Proustian experience. Meanwhile, the elegant Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse store next door boasts artisan creations to put Willy Wonka to shame, including a galaxy of different single-origin bars, flavoured ganaches and nutty pralinés, all hand-crafted in Paris. Save yourself the Eurostar ticket.
Every neighbourhood needs a good wine bar – and The Drop is a very good wine bar. Evangelical staff are on hand to guide you through the globetrotting wine list, which focuses on unusual regions and young, dynamic winemakers doing something a little different with their grapes. Meanwhile, a hearty, “broadly British” food menu goes far beyond bar snacks to keep you sated, with plates large, small, meaty and veggie, as well as a bountiful cheeseboard. Look out for the oyster cart, shucking two varieties daily, and drop in Tuesday to Friday for the £10 lunch menu.
Morty & Bob’s
Bread and cheese – name a more iconic duo. East London’s “hot sandwich maestros” Morty & Bob began their journey with legendary grilled cheese sarnies, but now they’ve moved to Coal Drops Yard and expanded into all-day dining. The toasties are still on the menu – golden, oozing, laced with truffled mushrooms or nduja salami – but joining them are comfort dishes with a mid-Atlantic-via-the-Mediterranean flavour. Think: ribeye steak with hash browns, a fried egg and parmesan truffle fries, followed by “upside down” berry cheesecake.
A distillation of owners Anthony Demetre and Michael Sodeau’s favourite bars and modelled after the all-day cafés of Italy, France and Spain, Vermuteria is both an elegant mid-shop pit stop and a friendly place to dwell, chat and watch the world go by. The star of the show is an extensive list of amaro and vermouth, both vintage and on-tap, with a campari-led cocktail menu for those who like their drinks bold in both taste and hue. Fresh-baked viennoiserie scents the air each morning, but the food goes far beyond flaky pastry – you could also find slow-cooked Welsh lamb, Cornish sardines, crab croquettes or Galician octopus on the menu. All the better to justify a tipple with lunch.
Here’s the link to the original article.