Friday, August 31, 2012

Recent arrivals - Summer 2012

So some of these places have been here for a while, but in case you missed them here’s what’s opened, closed or changed in King’s Cross in the last few months:

Shrimpy’s and KXFS

Improbably located in the shop of the old Goods Way BP filling station, Shrimpy’s brought a foody frenzy to King’s Cross with its soft shell crab burger. A few weeks later, KXFS arrived in the covered forecourt with a more down-to-earth booze and pizza offering along with an interesting events programme.

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Shrimpy’s

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KXFS (Kings Cross Filling Station)
 

Granary Square and Caravan

With its child-friendly fountains and steps down to the canal, Granary Square is a space as large as Trafalgar Square that’s hosted a number of successful events over the summer, from Eurostar Traction to the King’s Cross Ice Cream Festival. Overlooking the square is Caravan, which opened in mid-August, a restaurant that’s industrial in both size and design with an interesting all-day menu and great coffee.

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Granary Square

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Caravan
 

Brewhouse on York and Java Tree Café

Brewhouse on York is the first new wave independent coffee shop to arrive in King’s Cross and is a welcome addition to what’s always been a grotty section of York Way. Java Tree Café on Judd Street used to be called Bread & Butter then closed for a while. Foodwise it’s more of a traditional café, but smarter than some - the sort of place you could have a meeting or hang out making use of the free wifi.

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Brewhouse on York

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Java Tree Café
 

Tune Hotel and Kings Cross Inn Hotel

Tune is a Malaysian budget hotel with ambitious expansion plans for the UK. They should give our two very tired Travelodges a run for their money.

Kings Cross Inn Hotel replaces the Northumberland Hotel which was so bad that I used to read its Tripadvisor reviews for entertainment. Not surprsingly, Kings Cross Inn Hotel is pricier than the Northumberland but on a par with many of the other hotels in and around Argyle Square.

One other bit of hotel news: the St Pancras Novotel has re-branded as Pullman London St Pancras, and its restaurant changed from Mirrors to Golden Arrow.

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Tune Hotel

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Kings Cross Inn Hotel
 

Station news

Patisserie Valerie was a late arrival in the new King’s Cross concourse, while Caffe Nero recently opened a kiosk up near platforms 9-11.

Caffe Nero was also one of the places that will soon close its branch in the old arrivals concourse (which is going to be pulled down over the coming months - hurrah) along with Burger King, Upper Crust and Delice de France although only the last of these doesn’t have another branch nearby.

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Patisserie Valerie

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Caffe Nero King’s Cross
 

and finally…

Previously a private club, Base Bar & Club is a cosy basement drinking den in Keystone Crescent with occasional live music.

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Base Bar & Club

Indian Lounge is a smart Indian restaurant and takeaway on the site of the old KFC.

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Indian Lounge

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Kings Cross St Pancras Olympic travel update 3rd August

Paralympics updates:

If things change for the Paralympics we will publish them here.

Sunday 2nd September: some reports via Twitter of long waits for Javelin trains after the evening session in the Olympic stadium. I was at the event and used the Victoria Gate which has no crowds and is very near Bridge E if you are in that part of the stadium. I then took a number 8 bus into central London from this stop - very quick and stress-free journey. The Jubilee and Central Lines from Stratford don’t appear to have had problems either.

Saturday 1st September: there were minor queues for the Javelin trains this morning for the first Paralympics athletics session in the Olympic stadium, with waiting times of only a few minutes.

Friday 31 August: there were no queues for the Javelin trains this morning for the first Paralympics athletics session in the Olympic stadium.

Thursday 30 August: after some searching, we have found confirmation that print-at-home Paralympics tickets can be used on Javelin trains without a Games Travelcard.

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Print at home tickets can also be used on Transport for London (TfL) services:

“TfL staff will allow spectators to travel on services operated by TfL as long as they have a print out ticket or confirmation they have purchased Paralympic tickets for that day…. Print out tickets and ticket confirmation will be valid on the following services: DLR, London buses, London Underground and London Overground. They will also allow you to travel on river services with a 1/3 discount. Print out tickets and ticket confirmation are not valid on the Emirates Airline.”

which comes from this page.

————————————
Original post:

This is a follow-up to our Olympic travel page.

Today was the first day of athletics events in the Olympic Stadium, meaning that more than double the number of people would be heading to the Olympic Park this morning than previously. So how did the system cope?

I was mainly concentrating on the Javelin trains but didn’t see any signs of closures or crowds forming near any tube exits. On the roads there was heavy traffic on the Euston Road eastbound, probably from people being dropped off to catch the Javelin train.

Javelin trains

Here’s a quick overview:

  • - Huge numbers of people arrived to use the service but overall the system coped
  • - The Central Line was suspended for a while which would have sent even more people this way
  • - The staff and volunteers did a fantastic job
  • - 7.45 - 9am was the busiest period, and there were noticeable queues from around 7.30 - 9.15

After a slightly shaky start, staff did reasonably well to spread people evenly between the queuing pens, but the queue along Pancras Road was much longer than the others. I wasn’t timing the different queues but would guess that this was where some people reported that they were queuing for more than an hour.

But we all know the media likes doom and gloom and I saw far more tweets mentioning much shorter queue times including the BBC’s Tom Edwards: “About 30 mins I reckon to queue for javelin” and others like this one: “Queues long at St Pancras but well managed and thru in 15 mins for Javelin train”

How the Javelin queues work and how to avoid the longest ones

There are three main queuing areas which you can see in yellow this picture (click to see larger version).

The pens inside the station can be accessed directly from near the barriers to the First Capital Connect platforms, as well as being fed by pens in Midland Road.

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At the busiest time, the queue in Pancras Road was the longest, while staff had to empty the pens inside the station near the First Capital Connect barriers more often to allow others coming from inside the station to use them. So you are likely to have a shorter waiting time if you go into the station and use these pens.

  • Best avoided: Pancras Road
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  • Fast moving: inside St Pancras
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Even more sneakily, you could try the alternative route to the Javelin platforms from the upper level of St Pancras near the Betjeman Arms pub. This can be reached from the steps in Pancras Road or by going to the upper level if you are inside the station.

  • Sneaky: few people on upper level route
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Finally, avoid being directed to the pens on Midland Road - you will be waiting behind people who go directly into the queues inside the station. These should really be removed to allow the taxi rank to go back to normal.

  • Pointless: Midland Road pens hardly used
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