With its cavernous vaulted ceiling, vast arched windows and sumptuous interior design – Booking Office 1869 – the latest opening in the historic St Pancras Renaissance Hotel boasts one of the most impressive new dining rooms in the capital. Helmed by the man behind perennially popular Chiltern Firehouse and with the former chef from Allegra in the kitchen, this was always going to be a hit. For decadent Gilded Age atmosphere and an eclectic menu of crowd-pleasers on the menu, Booking Office 1869 is our London restaurant of the week.
In the grand 19th Century ticket hall of the old St Pancras Station (now Booking Office 1869, the new bar and restaurant at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel), French interior designer Hugo Toro has installed eight towering palms trees. Such is the scale of this Victorian gothic masterpiece that, even at eight metres tall, the trees barely come close to scraping the ceiling.
There’s yet more to catch the eye: a vast station clock, three great chandeliers hung with brass leaves, flamboyant printed velvets, a 22-metre marble-topped bar, and the Eurostar trains just visible through the arched windows. This is the golden age of rail travel reimagined for a new generation, where luxury means a crystal-clear margarita in good glassware with a perfect sphere of ice, or steak tartare, fried chicken and Champagne with friends en route to Paris.
Visionary hotelier Harry Handelsman (Chiltern Firehouse, The Stratford) has brought in chef Patrick Powell of Allegra and bar manager Jack Porter to create a destination all-day drinking and dining experience in King’s Cross. The atmosphere is electric on our visit, with drinkers mingling comfortably with diners and hotel guests from who knows where alongside locals. Powell’s menu is modern British-ish, its influences sweeping in from across the globe. There’s no particular logic to moving from gildas (a Basque snack of olives, guindilla peppers and anchovies) to soul food fried chicken, then monkfish and potato curry and a big sugary apple doughnut, but our desire to do so is not only permitted but positively encouraged.
The big hit, however, is roasted Brussels with crispy chicken skin, cranberry and pecorino. It sounds like the product of a Boxing Day fridge raid and works brilliantly. Parisian diners may raise a perfectly arched eyebrow but will surely concede that London marches to the beat of its own drum these days (though they’d be right to quibble with the clunky pastry on the salted caramel tart; let’s hope that’s fixed tout de suite).
A glamorous new address and a useful one too thanks to its late license (1am, Thursday to Saturday). The opening of Booking Office Roof Garden next year will only add to its allure.