Good things come to those who vegetate
The regeneration of Kings Cross has turned a once dubious locale into somewhere much more palatable. The derelict warehouses north of the station are now rejuvenated spaces, home to the restaurant Grain Store. The philosophy at Grain Store shines the spotlight on vegetables, demoting animal proteins to the periphery.
Even though my loyalties will always remain with the latter, it would be a lie to say that the notion of butternut squash ravioli doesn’t excite me. The ravioli can be had as a starter or main, which sees perfectly-pressed pasta full of roasted vegetable. Peppered in between these playful sacks are flavour-bombs of mustard apricot, more subtle than the fruit itself. A finishing dash of pumpkin seed oil rounds off the flavour profile decidely well.
Matters are further improved with a seaweed and cucumber salad, green apple puree and mackerel tartare. The fish is marinated in a zesty wash which is reminicent of a ceviche. The citrusy notes in the marinade marry well with the sharp puree and cooling cucumber. This brilliance is echoed in a main of lemon and spinach pasta served in a mussel and bergamot broth, which works well to balance any excess tartness.
Balance is entirely absent from cranberry braised beef which is comparatively bland and one dimensional, with negligible input from the berry. This is served with a trio of root vegetable purees, which again lack the lightness of previous dishes. A pudding of chocolate and peanut delice fairs much the same. This mousse-like cake sits alongside strips of pineapple which are supposedly poached in eucalyptus and mint, not that you would know it. In comparison to the intricacy of main dishes, this dessert feels like an afterthought.
Grain Store does what it seeks out to do, which is to raise the bar on vegetables and give them the limelight. Although these non-meat dishes are well judged and full of expertise, the same cannot be said for the rest of the menu sampled. Although the food can be inconsistent, an average price of £40 per person means that I would happily return to try more of the menu (smoked game sausage and grain mustard creme fraiche, anyone?).
Tube: Kings Cross