Grain Store in King's Cross opened to rapturous applause from the critics, and is justifiably right up there as one of the openings of the year. Amanda Afiya finds a stimulating menu at Bruno Loubet's latest restaurant
But three years on, with the opening of Grain Store - in aâ¨former warehouse in the â¨spectacularly regenerated King's Cross - with his Zetter business partners Mark Sainsbury and Michael Benyan, Loubet has thrown caution to the wind with a concept featuring ingredients and dishes that excite even the most knowledgeable of foodies.
Flying in the face of many restaurants that cram in as many tables as possible, the Russell Sage-designed 120-seat Grain Store is bright and airy, using wooden tables and white-painted mismatched chairs, giving it a New England charm. The sunlight pours in from huge windows, which look out on to an 80-seat south-facing terrace on Granary Square. Diners are treated not to an open-plan kitchen, but one that spills out into the restaurant.
Dishes, which lend themselves to sharing rather than a conventional starter and main, major on and salute the vegetable, but are not strictly vegetarian. Meat and fish, such as in the sprouting beans and seeds, miso aubergine, crispy citrus chicken skin, potato wafer (£6) and the more substantial dhal lentils, sweet banana pepper, apple and red onion salsa, sea bream dish (£14), are a component or embellishment rather than the star of the show. Tellingly, they are listed at the end of the name of a dish.
"It is the first time that this has been done," says Loubet. "For me, it was really to emphasise the fact that the veg is more important than the meat. To do that on the menu, I turned it upside down and put the veg elements of the dish first and the meat last. So you end up with quite a description for the veg."
The proportion of meat toâ¨vegetables is definitely smaller, adds Loubet. "That's a big part of â¨the concept here. To me, we are eating too much meat, so this is a good way to show that vegetables are very important and they â¨can take centre stage, and then the meat comes after, maybe to uplift the dish - to give an extra dimension to the dish."
Packed with superfoods, the menu is a textural heaven with a mix of seeds, fruits and cooking techniques, such as peach, salted watermelon and basil salad, salmon confit (£7/13.50) and corn and quinoa tamale, salsa, sticky pork belly (£15).
Loubet's play with textures â¨continues with dessert, with dishes such as light waffle, fruit compote, vanilla sabayon; and white chocolate rice crispy, dark chocolate mousse, almond ice-cream (both £6). Homemade fruit sorbet and ice-cream are also available by the scoop.
Critics and restaurant diners have definitely given it the thumbs up, so much so that, despite its cavernous size, getting a table can still, sadly, prove elusive, so book well in advance.
Sample dishes from the menu
Baked beetroots, pickled onions, goat labneh, dill oil dressing £6
Endive, pear, runner beans and Roquefort salad, smoked pepper jelly, toasted hazelnuts £6
Butternut squash ravioli, sage and mustard apricots, pumpkin seed oil £7/£13.50
Vegetable paella, garlic and tomato snails £14
Dhal lentils, sweet banana pepper, apple and red onion salsa, sea bream £14
Buttermilk and caraway braised cauliflower, wood baked onions, devilled duck heart £14
Spiced candied tomatoes, goat's milk panna cotta £6
Strawberry and balsamic jam, horseradish ice-cream, nasturtium leaves £5.50
Tart of the day £6
Grain Store, Granary Square, 1-3 Stable Street, King's Cross, London N1C 4AB
020 7324 4422