There’s something wildly romantic about railway stations, still more so railway hotel restaurants but none I’ve come across that beats the newly opened Gilbert Scott. It’s the kind of place you feel you should dine in a hat with a man with a Clark Gable moustache then impulsively leap on the 4 o'clock train to Paris - or even a sleeper to Edinburgh come to that ....
The impossibly grand high ceilinged room curves in a gracious way round the building, lined with gilded cornices. The most splendid lights you’ve ever seen descend from the ceiling, yards above your head. Brisk waiters, dressed like a Toulouse Lautrec painting bustle round but are improbably homely and cosseting - an unlikely blend of 19th century Parisien brasserie and Lyons Corner House.
Then there’s the food which I nearly forget I’m so excited about the space. It’s quite different from what I expected from Gordon Ramsay protege Marcus Wareing - much more robust, much more playful. I’d already had a sneaky glimpse from a meal the previous week at the chef's table which located downstairs in the gloom of the kitchen area felt more like a penance than a treat but even in that short time the food seemed to have gone up a notch.
The top dish was an artichoke tart of quite utter gorgeousness. featherlight puff pastry filled with some luscious artichoke cream and topped with more artichokes drizzled with a tarragon dressing. I’d go back for that alone. My daughter’s starter of bacon olives stuffed with pork and herbs like meaty, pastryless sausage rolls paled by comparison but was ingenious and robustly satisfying, partnered with a sharply dressed endive salad.
She was less lucky with her main course of ‘John Nott’s chicken’, a spatchcocked chicken with lemon and herbs which really hadn’t been cooked quite enough. (We had a similar dish at the chef’s table). I struck gold again however with a brilliantly retro dish of ‘soles in coffins’ - sole fillets stuffed with light-as-air mashed potato anointed with a light vermouth sauce and a scattering of Morecombe Bay Shrimps. I’d forgotten just how good those French-inspired classics can be.
It was tough choosing a pud but having gone for rich dishes up to that point I reluctantly turned away from eccles cakes and cheddar cheese ice cream and opted for an intensely minty Kendal mint cake choc ice. My daugher was equally happy with her Eton Mess-ish dish of strawberries and clotted cream which could have been served with Polgoon Aval raspberry cider if she’d wanted.
Even the wine pairings were successful. A glass of crisp, dry Rimauresque ros with the artichoke tart, a Catherine and Pierre Breton Vouvray 'La Dilettante' with the sole (Vouvray and cream = heaven) and the Polgoon again with a cube of Manchester tart we were offered as a pre-dessert, I suspect to show off the sommelier’s pairing prowess.
So, apart from the one dish, and some slightly disappointing chips, all top notch grub, adding to London’s reputation as one of the world’s great gastronomic destinations. It’s the perfect place to take a tourist or friend from overseas, a place to take your dad, your granny, your daughter (as I did) - hell, even a bishop. There was one on the next door table. The Gilbert Scott is a joy.
The Gilbert Scott is in the St Pancras Renaissance hotel in Euston Road. There’s an early supper deal from 5.30-6.30 at £19 for 2 courses, £24 for 3 but I suspect you won’t be able to resist the main menu for which I suspect you'll probably pay about £40 a head without wine.
I ate at The Gilbert Scott as a guest of the restaurant.