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By ROB BLEANEY
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Rob Bleaney checks out a little-known restaurant bar leading the King’s Cross revolution
THE beauty of central London, is that it retains an ability to surprise and delight in equal measure – and 06 St Chad’s Place is the archetypal hidden gem.
So hidden away is this stylish café bar, that despite having lived less than a mile up the road for the entire seven years it has been open, I still had no idea it was there.
In my defence, even its own website describes it as “secretly located”, but it’s still depressing to think of the horrible pubs around King’s Cross Station I’ve stumbled into over the last few years while this refreshingly laidback venue was sitting quietly round the corner.
06 St Chad’s Place
St Chad’s Place, WC1
020 7278 3355
Tube: King’s Cross/St Pancras
Wines: from £14.50
Mains: from £12.60
Tapas: from £4.50
Children welcome: Yes
Disabled access: Yes
In fairness, places like Camino, The Fellow and The Driver have made King’s Cross a far more attractive proposition for an evening out these days – and 06 St Chad’s Place is at the forefront of this revolution.
What was once a derelict mechanic’s workshop at the end of a tiny cobbled street off Gray’s Inn Road has been impressively restored by its current owners – architecture firm Squire and Partners – and their keen eye for design is obvious.
Huge windows and a glass roof light up a beautiful Victorian warehouse which boasts exposed brick walls and wooden beams.
The back wall is completely covered by a towering picture of a train and luxurious sofas sit alongside simple chairs and tables overlooked by a long, stylish bar.
The venue has three main guises.
From 8am it is the domain of the bright-eyed go getters, tucking into Black Forest ham and gruyere croissants and pan fried Portobello mushrooms over their breakfast business meetings.
By midday it becomes home to the lazy lunch brigade, enjoying such unusual delights as honey and mint marinated seared quail, mutton comfit salad and smoked salmon gnocchi over a bottle of Spanish Rioja.
By evening it is taken over by the after-work crowd, drinking, laughing and tucking into tapas.
When we dropped in at 6pm on a Friday night the place was as buzzing with young professionals, and to our surprise the tapas was adventurous as the venue.
A sweet and sticky chicken liver with ciabatta was a delight. A smoked pollock and parsnip rosti could not be faulted while a breaded pork terrine with piccalilli was as tasty as it was unusual.
A classic charcuterie and cheese platter with olives and cornichon, and a wonderfully good value Chilean sauvignon blanc to wash it down completed a very enjoyable evening.
06 St Chad’s place is only open Monday to Friday because Saturdays are reserved for weddings and other private parties, and it’s easy to see why.
It almost feels like a privilege to be there, and now that the secret is out the architects, graphic designers and Guardian journalists, who have made the place their own, might have to learn to share.