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.


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


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

Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
George Osborne became Chancellor in 2010
peopleChancellor accused of reneging on pre-election promise
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Lena Headey plays Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern