Restaurant Review: The Gilbert Scott, NW1
Daisy Jestico dines out among the decadent surrounds of Marcus Wareing’s new restaurant above St Pancras railway station
It has been years in the making but the highly-anticipated restoration of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and all its gothic glory is a sight to behold.
From its lovingly hand painted walls and gilded door frames to its impressive Victorian interiors - the giant bronze bells looming over one of the hotel’s many bars are particularly striking - there is certainly no scrimping on style.
But move further inside and you’ll find a jewel of a restaurant in the shape of Marcus Wareing’s latest culinary venture.
Named after the architect who designed the complex in 1865, once the headquarters for British Transport Hotels, The Gilbert Scott sticks fast to its Victorian roots and as a result is an experience steeped in old world glamour.
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Even the original limestone pillars remain in pride of place through the expansive and flawlessly designed dining room.
A truly British brasserie - it is opulent enough to attract the eye with enormous watercolour landscapes and blood red leather booths, but sensible enough to have each of the tables neatly lined in a row and draped with traditional white linen.
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So perhaps it is fitting for such a setting that Wareing is bringing time-honoured British classics back to the fore with a menu that reads like a Mrs Beeton cook-book.
Inspired by dishes across the length and breadth of the UK, the somewhat daunting menu covers pretty much everything you could think of - Eccles cakes and Pease pudding from up north and Dorset crab and a rib of beef reared in the Lake District embodying the southern counties.
It is certainly impressive, but makes choosing a practical nightmare.
I started with English asparagus topped with a poached egg, almonds and tarragon. The rich buttery sauce was matched nicely by the crunch of the almonds, but since the dish is hard to get wrong, the egg would have to be clucking for me to find fault with it.
My husband opted for the Harrogate loaf - a terrine of veal and bacon with a parsley salad - the smooth terrine, he said, offset nicely by a sharp piccalilli on the side.
For mains, I moved up north to sample the Scottish halibut poached in Camel Valley Brut and mussels.
By this point it’s pretty obvious that British food must mean lashings of butter so the thick and creamy Brut that accompanies the fish - so perfectly cooked it flakes off the fork - is ever so slightly overpowering that even the mussels are unable to compete with such a full-bodied sauce.
Meanwhile, my partner chose the Queen’s Potage, partly to find out exactly what a Potage is. It turns out it is a hearty stew of chicken breast, mushrooms, pistachios and pomegranates - an earthy and robust dish with a satisfying crunch to the chicken crust, although such a large slab of meat was not for the faint hearted.
For dessert we shared a Manchester tart, a Victorian classic and a staple for school dinners in the 80s, no doubt because it is stacked with bananas, custard and raspberry jam.
The meal was delicious and you cannot fault Wareing on that front, but there is a flaw in this apparently seamless masterplan.
With the surroundings so eye-catching and the food so quaintly English, it is the extravagant decor that lingers in the memory and not necessarily the dishes.
Yet for that reason alone the restaurant is sure to cement its status as one of the best railway brasseries London has to offer.