german gymnasium king's cross restaurants

The best restaurants in King’s Cross

15 May 2023|By Annie Lewis

North London’s hottest retail destination is undeniably a haven for foodies. Here’s where we recommend you book a table

Twenty years ago, King’s Cross was nothing more than a north London commuter hub. The underused industrial site was dotted with cheap caffs, sandwich joints and musty pubs situated in a prime position to lure the commuter crowd after a hard day at the office. Fast forward to 2023, however, and the perception of King’s Cross has shifted, the area having been thoroughly rejuvenated with new streets, shops, galleries, bars and restaurants, to become one of the capital’s trendiest leisure destinations. 

Hop off the tube and head to the canal to watch a blockbuster film courtesy of Everyman Cinema come the summer, or shop until you drop at Thomas Heatherwick-designed Coal Drops Yard whatever the weather. The cobbled streets and brick arches of the latter are home to both independent artisans and signature brands you’d also find on Oxford Street (just without the heaving crowds). It’s not all bricks and mortar though; King’s Cross is divided by Regent’s Canal that seems to have long forgotten its industrial roots and now features colourful narrowboats, ivy-clad walls and rich wildlife; whereas the Camley Street Natural Park boasts a two-acre nature reserve within walking distance of the canal towpath. 

While there’s clearly more than enough to do, how about finding a place to eat? Well, foodies are in luck. As some of the most popular retail brands set up in King’s Cross, so did a number of exceptional restaurants catering for every taste through a wide range of cuisines. From unique German-inspired dishes housed in England’s first purpose-built gymnasium, to Spanish tapas served in a sun-lit terrace, here are the best restaurants in King’s Cross. 

German Gymnasium

With a storied history dating back to 1865 (the following year saw the venue host London’s first indoor Olympic Games), the German Gymnasium takes its name from its original purpose: a functioning gymnasium funded and used by London’s German community. The Grade II-listed building is situated directly between King’s Cross’ two train stations and is the brainchild of the D&D London group behind the ever-popular Quaglino’s, Le Pont de la Tour and Coq d’Argent. Here, executive chef Alexander Thiel is at the helm, bringing with him a wealth of experience and unique dishes inspired by his childhood and homeland. 

Spread across three floors and emulating the evening glamour you’d find in Berlin, the ground floor is home to all-day dining destination Grand Café, serving German and Mittel-European fare. Upstairs, the flagship Restaurant takes diners on a journey around the lesser known aspects of German cuisine with a sophisticated seasonal menu; while the adjacent chic Meister Bar serves cocktails inspired by Germany’s National Parks, such as the Lüneburger Heide comprising Highland Park whisky, lavender cordial and peach bitters to recreate the violet-hued heath of Lüneburg. 

On a mission to challenge preconceptions of German cuisine, menu highlights include Rehrücken Baden Baden (roast roe deer saddle), Ente aus dem Rohrwith (whole roasted duck), Gefüllte Paprikaschote mit Letscho (roasted stuffed bell pepper) and the Forelle mit Mandlebutter (pan-fried whole river trout). To finish, the dessert menu will offer authentic classics such as quark and apricot strudel, or the choux-pastry Windbeutel, perfectly paired with one of the sommelier’s signature dessert wines. 

1 King’s Boulevard, N1C 4BU, visit germangymnasium.com

Decimo at The Standard

Hailing from Bristol, Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias oversees the menu at The Standard’s delectable Decimo, which puts a fresh interpretation on Spanish and Mexican cuisine, cooking over live fires with seasonal ingredients to create simple dishes designed to be shared. The hotel was the first European outpost from the stylish American hotel chain when it opened in 2019, and has delivered two eateries to King’s Cross’ culinary offering including Isla, specialising in Mediterranean small plates, and Decimo serving gambas rojas, Iberico pork, mezcal cocktails and tortilla in abundance. 

The latter is situated on the 10th floor of the hotel, accessed by the iconic red-pill lift, and its floor-to-ceiling windows offer dramatic views across the London skyline. You must try the pork belly tacos, red mullet with chickpeas, limo-chilli lobster and artichoke with pardina lentils. Pair with the mezcal flight of four spicy serves, which have been hand-picked for Decimo, to enjoy an authentic Mexican experience. 

10th Floor, 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG, visit standardhotels.com

Sushi on Jones

Since first opening its doors in New York’s West Village in 2016, Sushi on Jones has made a name for itself as an omakase bar offering authentic Japanese dining. After taking its brand international, Sushi on Jones opened its UK outpost at King’s Cross’ Courtyard to deliver customers its popular omakase experiences – a Japanese term translating as 'I'll leave it up to you'. The 12-piece tasting menu, which will have you in and out of the restaurant in 45 minutes, features the freshest uni, seared wagyu and the freshest cuts of fish hand-selected everyday to create one of the most reasonably-priced sushi menus in the capital. 

Curated by head chef Mattia Aranini and served at counter-seating, you can also indulge in a selection of nigiri and sashimi platters paired with Japanese sake, whiskey, beer and tea. We recommend the salmon and tuna crispy rice – two pieces with eel sauce, truffle and porcini spread – with a cup of Japanese Soba Cha tea. Delicious. 

11 Goods Way, N1C 4DP, visit sushionjones.com

Hicce

Housed in an airy, brick-exposed dining room, Hicce offers a number of British favourites influenced by Japanese and Nordic cuisine. The restaurant – its name taken from Latin for ‘in the moment’ – was the first solo venture for head chef Pip Lacey, who left graphic design for a career in the kitchen which led her to win the Great British Menu in 2017. Now, six years into the culinary game, you can trust her menu doesn’t disappoint. 

Steamed, pickled, woodfired and fermented — you name it, the menu has it. The sharing-style menu of both small plates and main dishes features favourites such as sea bream ceviche with orange and fennel; hispi cabbage drizzled in yoghurt, sunflower seeds and paprika; and lamb rump served with radish and ricotta. Can’t decide? Leave it to the experts and opt for the Hicce experience menu of four sharing courses per person to try the best of what’s on offer. 

Come sunny, summer days, Hicce becomes a buzzy drinking hole thanks to its restaurant terrace, adorning plenty of greenery with a view of the urban sprawl beyond. On the lower level, the courtyard terrace is the perfect spot for a leisurely, post-shop tipple. 

102 Stable Street, N1C 4DQ, visit hicce.co.uk

Coal Office

Fusing Middle Eastern fare with Mediterranean flavours, the Coal Office has become one of the hottest restaurants in London of late, largely as its the brainchild of designer Tom Dixon and famed Israeli restaurateur Assaf Granit. Inside, the monochrome interior has been designed by Dixon to follow the curve of the canal and houses three floors, with an open kitchen, two dining areas, a bakery and a bar. Fancy dining al fresco? Step outside onto the heated terrace on Bagley Walk, while the rooftop terrace offers panoramic views over Coal Drops Yard.

The menu is largely inspired by Jerusalem-born Granit’s homeland, as well as the spices stretching along the Mediterranean from the Middle East to North Africa. Sharing platters include Yemeni brioche Kubalah and Manakish focaccia served with labneh and tomato and date and zaatar dips. Small plates (think aubergine tartare and sea trout with pistachio) and big plates (braised ox cheek and chicken confit) are separated by the in-between dishes: Kuka Mashloka featuring artichoke heart, parsnip and parsley, and Machneyuda’s Polenta featuring asparagus, truffle oil and parmesan. 

2 Bagley Walk, N1C 4PQ, visit coaloffice.com

Barrafina

barrafina king's cross restaurants
Image: Barrafina

The King’s Cross outpost of Barrafina is the largest of the four Catalonian-inspired restaurants in the capital. The popular chain by the Hart Brothers is renowned for its modern, Michelin star style which focuses on tortillas, seafood and meats. Sit at the bar to watch the Spanish chefs at work, take a seat in the golden dining room or outside at the Parillian terrace, which are all situated on the top floor of Coal Drops Yard. We recommend the prawn-and-piquillo tortilla, cured monkfish, and pork belly bun, as well as the baby gem, anchovies and pancetta for an authentic taste of Spain. 

27 Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4AB, visit barrafina.co.uk

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