Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Michelin quality bar snacks at the Gilbert Scott - July 2012

They've settled down at St Pancras station, all of the builders have moved next door to repair years of damage to the original monstrous carbuncle King's Cross.

Railway restaurants are one of those things we don't seem to be able to get right in this country. They're too often poorly operated by franchises with low to no service standards, just an excuse to rip off occasional visitors. travel in rural France if you ever want to see how these sites could work.

Hearing that Marcus Waring would 'consult' on the menu at the grand St Pancras hotel made me wonder if this wasn't just another, higher end franchise, intent on extracting too much money for substandard fare.

I'd avoided the main restaurant until now, and on the basis of what little I sampled that could have been an error. Arriving mistakenly an hour before my train, I still didn't have time to sample the main menu, but I did have time to sample an excellent selection of bar snacks and a cheeky Chinin Blanc.

The room alone is worth an entry fee (or at least a drink), fully restored to its grandeur. Anchored with an art deco bar, the high painted ceilings carry away the drunken yammering of the herd of estate agents celebrating a deal next to me. Their Veuve-fuelled party lasted until one bold boy 'jokingly' pinched the breast of his female co-worker. The resultant slap couldn't have happened to a nicer man.

Posh pork scratchings are appearing on a number of menus at the moment, and these are the best I've sampled outside Claude Bosi's bucolic Wimbledon gastropub, the Fox and Grapes. Puffed up like chicharon, these bite-sized porcine pillows are subtle and almost refined. Dipped into a tureen of homemade apple sauce, I could eat them all day.

Salt cod croquettes are bigger than I'd expected. Not a patch on Jose, but robust and filling. Excellent bread, fennel seed loaf a highlight, and a decent pull of that ice cold aromatic white brought the total with service in at just under £20. Admittedly more than the traditional railway station sandwich, but worth the extra expense as a treat.

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