Monday, March 26, 2012

11 new places to eat and drink in Kings Cross station

If you can lower your gaze from the striking new roof, what comes into view is an interesting and varied selection of restaurants and cafés, several of which are venturing into a station for the first time.

Click on the pictures or names below for more photos and information about each place.

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Benito’s Hat
Colourful Mexican takeaway/café - they have three other branches in town and a growing fanclub.

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Giraffe Stop
If you know Giraffe already you may be expecting lots of orange and lots of kids, but “Giraffe Stop” - as this one is called - feels more like an American diner. Their menu is less child-oriented too, but by offering plenty of burgers and hotdogs should still keep everyone happy.

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Leon
Leon’s ethos of fresh fast food has helped them develop something of a cult following over the last few years and this is a lovely branch inside one of the original parts of the station.

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Yalla Yalla
Looking at their two other restaurants it’s perhaps a shame that Lebanese street food chain Yalla Yalla have only taken on a small counter upstairs at King’s Cross, but the mezze, wraps and pastries still look interesting and tasty.

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The Parcel Yard
This new pub from Fullers is rather good - I’ve already sung its praises and posted several pics here.

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Wasabi
Pick-your-own sushi or get a ready made selection from Wasabi who now have 25 branches in and around London.

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Prezzo
I’ve never been in a Prezzo but have always seen them as like Pizza Express but a bit smarter. Anyway we’re not flooded with pizza places in King’s Cross so no harm in adding this one to the mix.

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The Pasty Shop
Perhaps it’s just a design and branding thing but The Pasty Shop doesn’t look as nice as West Cornwall Pasty who were at King’s Cross but now have just the one branch over in St Pancras. Maybe when you’re in the mood to scoff down a pasty before boarding a train there’s not much difference.

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Pret a Manger
We have five Prets round here now, so not much to say really. Being strategically placed between the tube escalators and the new concourse it’s likely to get pretty busy.

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Starbucks
And four Starbucks. This one’s very small, so they’ll be expecting you to grab your coffee and move on as you head to or from your train.

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Upper Crust
Reliable but not particularly thrilling station baguette sellers have a new look for a new concourse. The old one is still going in the old concourse (which is now used for arrivals only, until it gets zapped sometime next year).

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Parcel Force

UPDATE: For directions, opening times, contact information etc see The Parcel Yard information page.

Never mind the station - with The Parcel Yard, King’s Cross now has a beautiful new pub.

The new King’s Cross station opted for a sneaky soft launch the Sunday before its official Monday rush hour opening on March 19th, which felt like a good excuse to investigate its new pub, The Parcel Yard.

We’ve known for a while that a new “flagship” Fullers pub was going to be part of the new station, although you have to look quite carefully to spot the brewer’s distinctive red rectangular logo that marks the way up from the impressive but already photographed-to-death new station concourse.

But what a treat awaits you. Spread over two floors with several rooms and corridors surrounding a central indoor courtyard, The Parcel Yard is a gem of a pub which makes the most of its railway heritage without feeling like it’s had to try too hard. With lots of space, and views over both sets of platforms below, I suspect this will become a popular watering hole for commuters and railway buffs alike.

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Central station: the high-ceilinged space at the heart of the pub

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Attention to detail: parcel trolley as pub furniture

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Trainspotting heaven: sip your pint while observing the comings and goings at platforms 0 to 8

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Original features: old station interiors never looked so good

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Toilet humour: loos and basins brought to you by Thomas Crapper

For directions, opening times, contact information etc see The Parcel Yard information page.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Springwatch: disgruntled geese in Battlebridge Basin

UPDATE, 2nd April: The geese have been able to return to the nest and are now nesting happily.

Battlebridge Basin on the Regent’s Canal behind King’s Cross is home to various waterbirds: coots, mallards, a solitary swan, occasional gulls and during spring and summer a number of Canada geese.

For the last few years, the same pair of geese have made their nest in a large barrel on the front of one of my neighbour’s narrowboats that was previously occupied by a palm tree which they pecked away until it was a small stump giving them more room to nest.

This week the pair returned to start nest-building, only to find that their barrel has been boarded up and they are not happy geese. I don’t blame my neighbours at all for doing this because geese are noisy and messy and bird poo of any kind does really bad things to narrowboat paint.

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But without doubt they are seriously perturbed, and have already made several visits to make sure that yes their normal pad is not available and they are currently adding to London’s homelessness problem.

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This morning they made another visit, watched by a pair of very pretty and more chilled Egyptian geese (thanks to my dry land neighbour, the astrologer and keen goose-watcher Shelley von Strunckel for telling me that’s what they were), which is when I took the video at the top of the page.

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I’m curious as to how this situation is going to resolve itself, but the noise woke me up at 7am on a Saturday morning so I’m wondering if they are engaging in a bit of psychological warfare to get my neighbours to uncover the nest.

If you want to visit Battlebridge Basin, the Rotunda bar and restaurant at Kings Place has a lovely waterside terrace, while the London Canal Museum also has access to the quayside as well as lots of fascinating information about the canals and how ice was brought here by barge and stored in wells which you can see in the museum.

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