Grain Store, Granary Square, 1-3 Stable Street, London

Lisa Markwell finds a new vegetable nirvana behind an old transport hub.

It wasn't meant to be Grain Store this week. Trying restaurants when the paint's barely dry is tempting – like seeing a film on the first night, you want to be the one to air opinions before everyone's become bored by the whole subject. It's not helpful for chefs, restaurateurs or readers, frankly, since often things need tweaking and settling. But a set of circumstances bring me to Grain Store in its first few days. Happily, its chef/patron is Bruno Loubet, who's had enough launches to hit the ground running, and who has a clever idea to show off.

The restaurant is in a new development of an old building behind the unlovely King's Cross station. The granary building is a slab of thing, prettified for 2013 with a geometric silver slash of paint all across it – as if Ziggy Stardust was Ziggy Stardust & Son, wholesalers to the vegetable trade.

In a cavernous corner space sits Grain Store. Full-height windows and high ceilings add air and atmosphere; if you're not sitting near a window – which most won't be – it could turn a bit genuinely cavey. An open kitchen at the centre and a bar help break up the space. And there, working the Josper grill, is Bruno.

He already runs the rather terrific Bistrot Bruno Loubet at the Zetter hotel in nearby Clerkenwell. This operation is several times the size and with a very different menu; Grain Store is all about the vegetables.

It's not a vegetarian restaurant, good God no! Loubet is French, and his daubes and boudins are something to behold. But Grain Store puts the veggies front and centre. Rather refreshing coming, as we are, off a seemingly endless cycle of burger and BBQ joints. The menus – printed on earthy colours – celebrate such produce as asparagus, cauliflower, potatoes and beetroot. It might be earthy, but it's not muddy. There are some brilliant combinations, and where an animal is involved in a dish, it comes at the end of the description, not the beginning. Just in case you were in any doubt.

Mr M has baked beetroot with pickled onions, goat labneh and a dill oil dressing (£6), followed by a corn and quinoa tamale with salsa and sticky pork belly (£15). I have seared asparagus with a green gazpacho sauce and rosemary and pink peppercorn Melba toast (£6.50), then braised endive, pickled radish, artichoke and pigeon, with popcorn (£15). For good measure, we share some broad bean, courgette and prawn falafels (£6.50).

There are some joyous-sounding cocktails on a menu devised by the masterful Tony Conigliari, from which a Death in Venice (Campari, prosecco and bits and bobs) is the least adventurous. Maybe next time I'll try a pumpkin and maple-syrup bellini… A good wine list includes "Tony's Greco Roman Wines", which are smoked or herb infused.

Largely served on plain white oval plates, each dish is a picture. The beets and pickles with a soothing goat-y yoghurt are bliss, the asparagus still the star despite dabs of silky sauce. The falafels come with a punchy, chunky raita.

The place is full to bursting and the staff, only at full speed for a few days, do well to keep things motoring. Our fantastic, pink-haired waitress Jenni keeps a watchful eye and when the mains are a little slow, she gets the kitchen to hop to it.

The tamale and pork belly is a study in calm. But once the corn is unwrapped, it scatters its wonderfully seasoned, crisp and nutty contents to mingle with the super-soft pillow of pork. My meat is off the Josper, pink within and juicy (one tiny niggle, the pigeon might have been trimmed a smidgeon better). The artichoke mousse is served in an eggshell with a wooden spoon. Affected? Maybe just a tad, but it tastes rich and grassy.

Of the puds, the spiced candied tomatoes with goats' milk pannacotta is a sensation. They are indeed fruits – jammy and sweet. A white-chocolate rice crispy with dark-chocolate mousse and almond ice-cream is, frankly, just rude (I ate it all).

I cannot wait to come back and romance my inner vegetarian. Grain Store is a triumph of a great chef thinking about what the London scene needs, and delivering it.

8/10

Grain Store, Granary Square, 1-3 stable street, London N1, Tel: 020 7324 4466. £80 for two, including two cocktails

Three more vegetables-first tables

L'enclume

Out-of-this-world cuisine with a Cumbrian slant makes Simon Rogan's old smithy a top foodie shrine. Cavendish St, Cartmel, Cumbria, tel: 01539 536 362

Vanilla Black

Gourmet cuisine and helpful staff have won it praise, though critics have still sometimes been underwhelmed. 17-18 Tooks Ct, London EC4, tel: 020 7242 2622

Riverford Field Kitchen

Unfussy, inventive, stunning organic food at a swanky communal-table farm canteen. Wash Barn, Buckfastleigh, Devon, tel: 01803 762 074

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
ESPN footage showed a split-screen Murray’s partner Kim Sears and Berdych’s partner Ester Satorova 'sporting' their jewellery
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee