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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Attention to detail: parcel trolley as pub furniture

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

Original features: old station interiors never looked so good

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.


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.



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.



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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Monday, February 6, 2012

Food and drink in the new Kings Cross station

UPDATE: this article was posted before the new station opened. See this more recent blog post for details and pics of all the places listed below.

The verdict: interesting and not too many of the usual suspects

While most of the coverage the new Kings Cross station has focused on the impressive design, there hasn’t been much talk of what’s going to be inside the spaceship-like concourse that’s due to open on 19th March. Until today that is, when a Network Rail press release revealed the full line-up of food, drink and other retail outlets.
The list is varied and includes plenty of welcome additions to the Kings Cross area, with small-to-medium chains like Benito’s Hat, Giraffe, Leon, Wasabi and Yalla Yalla.

And while M&S, Starbucks and Upper Crust are a bit dreary they still have plenty of fans. The pub sounds quite promising too.

Here’s the full list:

Benito’s Hat Mexican restaurant with three other branches in London
Caffe Nero Already at King’s Cross and St Pancras
Fullers Real ale and restaurant from famous London brewer
Giraffe Express branch (”Giraffe Stop”) of family-friendly restaurant chain with 43 branches
Leon 12th restaurant for this chain that set out to “change the face of fast food”
M&S Simply Food Have two branches in St Pancras already
Pasty Shop Branches at 15 other stations, replacing West Cornwall Pasty (who still have a branch in St Pancras)
Pret A Manger This will be the 5th branch in the King’s Cross area
Prezzo Pizza and pasta, 160 branches across UK
Starbucks 4th branch in the King’s Cross area
Upper Crust Are already at King’s Cross in the old concourse
Wasabi Sushi and bento restaurants/takeaways with 15 branches in London
Yalla Yalla Lebanese restaurant with two other branches in London

I’ll add all the new places to the KXLDN directory when they open.

Whether we’ll also be saying goodbye to Burger King, Camden Food Co and Delice de France remains to be seen but I suspect they’ll be around until the old concourse is torn down next year.

We don’t cover shops on KXLDN but they are listed in the Network Rail press release.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Place to be

A season of 78 new dance pieces kicks off 2012

While much has been made of the creative boost given to King’s Cross by recent the arrival of Central Saint Martins, the area has been an important centre for the dance world for many years, being home to The Place, the UK’s premier centre for contemporary dance, and The London Studio Centre, as well as having Sadler’s Wells just up the road.

Held every January and now in its 23rd year, The Place hosts Resolution!, an open season for short new pieces by emerging choreographers which has helped launched the career of many of the UK’s leading dance artists. In 2012 no fewer than 78 performances will take place over 6 weeks starting on Friday 6th January.

One of these will be Meeting Place, a duet by Hamish MacPherson and Martine Painter, who have let their varied interests and life experiences inspire the piece. Meeting Place plays with visually unfolding an algorithmic formula. As this takes place, an intimate and sometimes comic relationship emerges between the two dancers.

Photo by Marica Melotti

The dancers’ engagement with maths, science and philosophy reflects their diverse backgrounds: Martine read French studies, was a successful singer and is currently a librarian, and Hamish studied art and philosophy and is a civil servant.

It was their shared love of numbers and non-stylised movement that brought them together and over the summer they both worked as dance artists with choreographer Eva Recacha for the Choreodrome season at The Place, where they performed in the Touch Wood season. Inspired by this experience they have gone on to make their own work and, alongside the other Resolution! acts, could well be names to look out for in the future.

Meeting Place trailer

You can see Meeting Place on Tuesday 10th January at 8pm. Also performing on the night are CODA Dance/Nikki Watson and DO NOT DANCE UK/José Campos. Tickets are available here.

Details of Resolution! performances happening within the next 1-2 weeks can be found in the KXLDN events section, or visit The Place website for the full programme.
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