Brasserie Lunch Preview
1st May 2011
Amongst recent launches in London, The Gilbert Scott (TGS) nestled by the newly opened St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and eponymous of the architect is one restaurant, definitely on my list. I was delighted to be invited by TGS Team to preview the restaurant (for a significantly reduced price). My only down point is that I had to rush through the lunch with my family to then attend a birthday party, there-in I still managed a three-course meal and noticed I took longer than the ‘allocated’ two hour slot. I do hope they’re not too heavy handed with table turning; it’s so easy to wile away time there.
The decor is stunning, lovingly restored, with respect to the original architecture. On arrival the bar welcomes you, where you’re welcome to sit and have cocktails and bar snacks. I actually spotted Marcus on arrival at the bar, so it was nice to see he’s there within at least the first few weeks before getting back to The Berkeley (his 2* Michelin restaurant). ‘Love’ him or ‘Hate’ him, I’ll allow Giles Coren to give you a guided tour of the restaurant (thanks lovefood.com).
Service: Friendly, with the right amount of interaction. We were seated right at the back of the room, which was great for people watching. Alas, we weren’t honoured with some of the celeb-tastic preview diners that have recently been in Mr Fry, Mr Gervais and even Mr Law! Service was sharp, staff knowledgeable in all areas and we even had a welcome from the very friendly Chantelle (GM).
Bread: I tried the Dyet bread, which was made with fennel seeds and sage, quite a nice combination. My only bug bear was not having a resting bread plate, if only to be a saving grace from my major crumbs spillage.
As there were three of us for lunch, we decided to order one course each and share, to see what all the dishes tasted like. This worked quite well, as dishes were easy to portion out.
Starters: Dish 1 : Yorkshire Fish cake (Nicely flaky, nice contrast with the cucumber). Dish 2: Brown & Forrest Salmon (which was beautifully cut salmon with a piquant caper butter. Dish 3: The Dorset crab (which was beautiful and a lovely combination of textures with delicate crash meat).
The Main Event: Dish 4: The Queens Potage (visually stunning, the texture was good with pistachio crunch and pomegranate freshness). Dish 5: Soles in Coffins (I especially approved of use of potato skin for the crispy potato garnish, it made chuckle too). Dish 6: The Sea Bass Cullenskink, beautiful execution of both fish dishes, loved the crispy skin on fish. Our fish dishes were complimented by our sides of asparagus, spinach and colcannon. The colcannon was absolutely heavenly, I’m sure due to the amount of copious amounts of butter laced through it. Also on order was the Pease Pudding, (not my favourite), but I’m not generally a fan of split peas. I did also notice a couple of diners around us had opted for roast chicken to share (not for us as we wanted to try different dishes), however I was quite envious of the look of their crispy roast potatoes.
Pudding: Usually the main event for my family, as we all have extremely sweet teeth, also knowing that Marcus Wareing’s stellar reputation for Patisserie. Unlike Pollen Street Social, the Patisserie Kitchen isn’t really a seated dining offering. Instead, diners seated on tables close by can view the assembly of desserts and the gentle sound of the bell at the pass for dessert collection. We greedily ordered four desserts (knowing that the ‘specials’ – option of Custard Tart was a must, with the Great British Menu history in mind). Dish 7: Mrs Beeton’s Snow eggs (curiosity prevailed on this one); I guess the original inspiration from MrsB for in modern day, what we’d call as floating islands? Great texture, execution, especially the Everton Toffee inside the meringue – superb! Dish 8: The Orange Marmalade Jaffa cake was a deconstructed affair with bitter chocolate ganache in the centre and a delicious accompanying Earl Grey ice cream. Dish 9: The Lord Mayor’s Trifle was lovely; I liked the unusual combination (almost like a pina cola trifle, although obviously a whole lot classier). Dish 10: The Custard Tart was our much anticipated finale. I liked the side of apple and rhubarb compote, slightly tart against the soft set of the custard. I prefer a bit more of a wobble to my tart, but I guess that’s subjective. Next time I think I’ll try the Manchester Tart, it sounds a bit like a banana trifle with pastry (yum!).
Final Thoughts: I can really see TGS working well as a destination Brasserie for those who relish this sort of ‘British’ dining experience, as they have stalked to The Ivy, The Wolsley and even ‘Dinner’ to some extent. With the draw of Marcus Wareing and let’s face it, Kings Cross is crying out for great dining venues. The pricing is accommodating as you have some rich ingredients; actually very pleased you don’t appear to have any POA’s (as I keep seeing on other menus – so no surprises). It’s nice to see an English cheese board, and also inclusions of Polgoon and Camel Valley to the drinks list. By TGS offering all day and evening dining, I can see straight off, lots of different occasions that I’d pop in for. There’s no set lunch menu and budgeting may be tricky with so many delights to select from. However, there is an Early Supper menu (offered between 5.30-6.30pm, at £19 for 2 or £24 for 3 courses). I’m already looking forward to breakfast, likely to going live late in the Summer, hope they’ll be some interesting dishes harking back from the past and not just a traditional fry up.
On leaving, I got to meet and thank Marcus for his hospitality, as he was by the Pastry Kitchen, which was a very nice touch to our dining experience. I liked experience of dining at TGS; the dishes are simple but well executed without ANY superfluous gimmickry.
Be aware of: There is a £2 cover charge, 2 hour booking slot (standard as it would seem with Brasserie dining), Vegetarians have a few options at the moment, however the restaurant is flexible to work to your needs (more dishes will be included in time).
Take time to: Explore TGS in its entirety; it’s such a beautiful venue, especially with an aperitif or digestif at the bar.
The Gilbert Scott
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
London, NW1 2AR