There Are Some Great British Dishes At The Great Northern Hotel
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Plum + Spilt Milk isn't cheap. But boy, is it pretty. The restaurant gives off a beatific golden glow, some combination of all the low-hung chandeliers, curved wooden partitions and buttery dark leather.
Still, at special occasion prices, you'd want it to be more than just a looker, and first signs are promising (second signs, really, if you count the simple but spot-on dirty martini and Old Fashioned we start with). Both of our starters are simple, seasonal and lovely — a cluster of asparagus with hollandaise, and spiced fish soup with a tangy pepper paste.
Neither of them are particularly primped, or plated up in complicated arrangements. The asparagus starter's actually so nakedly simple our waiter feels obliged to wave a warning flag about it when we order, affirming that 'they're really simple... it's really just the asparagus themselves; is that alright?'
Totally accurate. And very much alright, as it turns out. The asparagus is tender but with some bite, vividly green and ever-so-slightly salty — basically a dream sequence of asparagus's best qualities.
That's more or less the same across the new seasonal menu: classics, scattered with on-trend touches — the garlic's wild, the tomatoes are heritage, the apple's ponzu-pickled and the hispi's charred. Provenance is front-and-centre. That asparagus? Langridge Farm, and organic. The venison is South Downs, pork is Paddock Farm. The name-checking might feel heavy-handed if the quality weren't so impressive — hey, these have to be the celebrities of the asparagus world and venison-farming circles; this pork deserves some pageantry.
To be fair, the pageantry's mostly just on paper. No doubt plenty of skill's gone into our venison and pork mains, but they're still simple enough to feel like they're ingredients first, their chefly artistry coming second. The venison's pan-fried, softly rare, tomatoes gently giving up their juices underneath. And the Tomapork — a Tomahawk-style cut of pork, with a salty, mustardy glaze — is more than just a (sterling) pun, heft of the meat cut through by the stack of radish salad and pickled apple slices.
The beatific glow of the restaurant isn't limited to its decor; by the time we get to macarons and coffee, it's clear the food's responsible for some golden warmth of its own. If you've got the cash to lavish on something simple yet thoroughly special, this is a great place to do it.
Plum + Spilt Milk, Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross St Pancras Station, N1C 4TB.
Last Updated 20 February 2019