Tonight I am dining with my fellow Food Journalism colleagues as part of our ten week course.
We’re in Kings Cross at the fabulous St Pancras Renaissance Hotel – a Gothic Revival masterpiece – said to be one of the most impressive examples in Britain.
Named after the architect, The Gilbert Scott is a Marcus Wareing outpost and today is the first time I have visited one of his restaurants. I discover that Scott actually came from a little place called Gawcott, the next village to where I was raised, which was an interesting discovery….
The building itself is beautiful and you soon forget you are just a few minutes away from the chaos of Kings Cross station. The restaurant with its high ceilings, limestone pillars and gilded features feels opulent yet has a relaxed informal feel about it.
We are here to eat but before that we are experiencing something pretty exciting. Our tutor Nikki has arranged for us to visit the kitchen during service and meet with the Head Chef. After watching too many programmes about sweary chefs I expect to descend into the depths of hell and enter a furnace of a kitchen with tempers flaring, amidst inflated egos.
Instead the kitchen is quiet, serene and so much smaller than I expected. A chef’s table overlooks the entire space for those who want to fully immerse themselves in the experience.
We are greeted by Head Chef Mark Froydenlund who is charming, funny and incredibly relaxed – the antithesis of what one would expect in a chef in that position. He takes questions from the group and despite it being the restaurants fifth birthday that night, seems happy to spend time with us and find out what we’re all up to.
We then move back upstairs to sample some of the kitchen’s creations. We’re eating from a set menu which provides a nice introduction to the food on offer. Looking at the menu – ingredients are clearly crucial, something we had discussed with Mark beforehand. Crabs from Dorset, Scottish scallops, Sicilian tomatoes and Cumbrian pork – straightaway you know that huge effort goes into sourcing the best produce.
I choose a hen’s egg on a bed of brendade with a bacon crumb. Now I admit I didn’t know what brendade was but threw caution to the wind and ordered it anyway. It’s actually an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil which was delicious and not overpowering in the slightest.
For my main I chose a Cumbrian pork fillet in a tangy barbecue sauce on a bed of apple slaw and buttermilk. The barbecue element was spicy and packed a punch, but was offset by the sweetness of the apples.
Both dishes were light and tasty, and everyone else’s meals looked delicious too.
I didn’t manage a dessert as had to leave a little early but would no doubt have succumbed had I stayed.
Staff were discreet and charming and everything you’d expect and hope from a restaurant of this calibre.
I’ll certainly come back when time is not such an issue and I can ponder the entire menu in all its glory.