Its upstairs neighbour Plum + Spilt Milk recently garnered a five-star review from us, so can the GNH Bar match its quality? Mark Kebble puts it to the ultimate test: visiting with ten for a 40th birthday party
With my brother reaching a momentous landmark in his life journey – older brother, I may add – as he reached the big 4-0, there was only one place to celebrate: the fast-moving King’s Cross area. Having already given a mighty five stars to Plum + Spilt Milk, located right by the station, for this occasion I decided we should check out the GNH Bar, located directly below the aforementioned restaurant and another part of the impressive Great Northern Hotel.
It’s always a challenge in my eyes to visit somewhere that is essentially quite snug – as the GNH Bar is – with ten guests to fit in, but the size actually worked in our favour as we were seated in circular fashion that ensured everyone could hear each other speak. Like Plum + Spilt Milk, the menu here has been created by the acclaimed Mark Sargeant and is a lot simpler in essence than its upstairs neighbour, but no less tantalising.
With it being Sunday, the birthday boy just had to sample the Sunday roast, in this case pork belly with red cabbage, apple and mustard chutney on the side. It was an impressive chunk of meat, with a perfect crackling on the outside (so easy to get wrong), and with added trimmings it was a meal fit for a king (or a 40-year-old birthday boy). Elsewhere the choice was varied: the salt beef open sandwich proved popular, my Longhorn beef burger was perfectly cooked and the one healthy person on the table gave her Caesar salad a hearty thumbs up.
It was interesting to see the mix of clientele that came and went during our three-hour stay – plenty of suitcases were wheeled in and out – but it’s clear locals are getting the message too about the offering here. Service was universally excellent, perfectly summed up when they presented a special birthday cake that made for an excellent dessert. The GNH Bar deserves to be a destination restaurant – apt considering its location – so if you haven’t visited yet this could be the ideal time. For now, my brother and the rest of the family were more than happy to have our cake and eat it.
Great Northern Hotel, Pancras Road N1C 4TB; 020 3388 0812; gnhbar.com