The St Pancras Grand Restaurant, Oyster and Champagne Bar, London

The St Pancras Grand Restaurant, Oyster and Champagne Bar, London

by rich on February 24, 2010

“Beyond the throb of the engines is the throbbing heart of all.”
John Betjemen

St. Pancras station in London is quite the most amazing space, a vast vaulted ceiling headed by a gold clock, set high above a fleet of sleek Eurostar trains.

The station dodged the Luftwaffe’s bombs, but fell out of favour during the Sixties rush to sleek modernism.  Somehow, it survived, a dirty and half derelict relic from another age.

Then came the Eurostar.

The Victorian soot was sandblasted off the red bricks, the ceiling repaired and re-architected, the lower concourse – once a store for Northern beer barrels as they arrived in the capital – renovated as a retail space and international departure lounge.

St. Pancras captured the old, lost romance of the railway, and was reborn.

The upper concourse has an oyster and champagne bar, part of a larger restaurant.  Travellers sit with their bags and their stories sipping champagne as John Betjeman, poet laureate and St Pancras’ champion in its darkest days, immortalised in bronze, gazes shambolically skywards, astounded by the grandeur and scale of the roof.

The St. Pancras Grand serves a solidly British menu, as if to challenge the French people disembarking from the train at their own game.

Kidneys sauteed in butter and served on toast with a red wine reduction.  Kedgeree, with smoked haddock, egg and fresh peas, the rice retaining its bite, flavoured with the mellow whiff of the Empire – a bowl of warming, satisfying food, loaded with history.  Blackberry and apple crumble, as essentially English as any pudding could ever be,  with ice-cream, flecked with black specks of vanilla, melting slowly into the big, rustic crumb topping.  A glass of champagne at the side, an excellent ximenez sherry later.

Fitting, accomplished and well cooked food.

Betjeman would have been amazed and delighted at what’s become of his favourite station.

Photo courtesy of Richard Gunn.  Many thanks for graciously allowing me to use it. See more of Richard’s excellent shots in his Flickr photostream.

St Pancras Grand on Urbanspoon

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie February 24, 2010 at 5:56 pm

We went to Germany on the Eurostar in December and I loved the St Pancras station, although we were backpacking and on a budget so we just ate our packed lunch sat on the floor of the concourse! Oysters and Champagne sounds delightful!

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Anonymous February 24, 2010 at 8:47 pm

I usually go for the traditional English food served at Kings Cross next door. Chicken balti pasty and a four pack of Stella.

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Kavey February 24, 2010 at 11:11 pm

This place WAS on my wish list until I visited their stand at Taste of Xmas. They were so rude my friend and I actually laughed, because it was so blatant. And the food was disappointing too, I didn't finish it, despite the hefty price tags (at all the stands) for such tiny portions. And I can't even recall what it was though if I had the stand menu to hand I'd remember. And so, just like that, it was off my list!It's amazing places like that don't stop and think that it's better not to attend shows like Taste of Xmas at all, given it's attendance by foodies, than to attend and serve with such poor grace.

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Leigh March 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm

hah, no shit, I was there myself this week (st pancras)!! Only a fleeting stop, though.

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London Paris Train July 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Great post. The "new" St. Pancras really has captured the lost romance of the railway. It's an amazing place these days, especially looking up to see Paris, Brussels, or Avignon…on the departures board. A bit different to how the place was in the 1990s when I regularly took the train back to Derby!

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