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Restaurant Review: Spagnoletti, Kings Cross, London, UK

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Restaurant Review: Spagnoletti, Kings Cross, London, UK

10 Apr 2024

Close to London's St Pancras and Kings Cross, Spagnoletti offers more than a quick bite before taking the train.

In recent years, the area around King’s Cross has undergone something of a Cinderella transformation and Spagnoletti is a welcome newcomer to London’s restaurant scene. To the north, what was an underused industrial site, has been rejuvenated with new streets, squares and parks, bars, restaurants, schools, and even a university.

South, across Euston Road, was once a seedy square where heroin dealers and prostitutes did their business but now is the location for a new shopping mall. On the corner, Barclay’s bank has morphed into the Megaro Hotel with a multi-coloured façade and home to Spagnoletti restaurant and Hokus Pokus alchemy bar.

Both were designed by creative mastermind Henry Chebaane in his own inimitable style. Spagnoletti is not named for a pasta but rather after Charles Spagnoletti, a 19th century London engineer and inventor. The interior of Hokus Pokus mixes futuristic steampunk with a Victorian era chemist’s shop.

We start underground in this extraordinary space where Greg ‘Doc’ Chudzio leads us through the cocktail menu. He tells us that all his botanical concoctions are distilled, infused, pickled or smoked on the premises – no off-the-shelf mixes served here.

My companion challenges him to come up with a unique non-alcoholic invention and is well rewarded with his mix. I go for the Molecular Martini with ball-bearing-sized floating flavoured alcohol bombs. Put them in your mouth, detonate with your tongue and they explode with flavour.

We’re now ready to walk upstairs to Spagnoletti, pleasantly buzzing on a Friday night. It’s a long room with the Euston Road at one end and the open kitchen at the other, with a bar on one wall. A lattice of yellow pipes on the walls and ceiling evoke inventor Charles Spagnoletti’s railway telegraphic signalling system. It’s clever industrial chic without being overbearing.

Our waiter explains that their ethos is centred around flour, with pasta made fresh every day, as are their breads in the onsite bakery. A mini charcoal sourdough loaf arrives warm with organic olive oil from Sicily and very good it is too. We also can’t resist the Focaccia, light and fluffy with tomato, oregano and black olives.

Of course the menu’s main feature is the homemade pasta but we’re also keen to sample their snacks. Suckling pig and black pudding croquettes are light but meaty and are served with a side of chopped capers egg mayonnaise. Best of all are the wild mushroom and truffle Arancini, crisp on the outside but moist on the inside. A refreshing goat cheese dip works well.

Now for the starter and Crab Canollo arrives as a couple of crispy pasta tubes with a generous stuffing of white crab meat. Sweet blobs of clementine jus on top and below make a good pairing.

For main pasta we go for Tortiglioni with prawns and chilli. Portions are reasonable, something of a relief given what we’ve already eaten, and the pasta is pleasantly al dente. Chopped sun dried tomatoes add to the flavour mix with the chilli zinging away in the background.

Fish is an easy choice out of the three main courses and the cod arrives on a bed of pureed brussel sprouts surrounded by whole hazelnuts. This might seem a strange pairing but the sweetness of the nuts makes a nice contrast with the bitter of the sprouts. Best of all, the fish has been blowtorched before serving so the inside is not overcooked.

Desserts are now threatening but we ignore their house tiramisu in favour of the Gorgonzola Cheesecake. The blue cheese shines through, making it almost savoury but a pear glaze and a strip of rum jelly bring it back into sweet territory. My companion tackles the Salted-caramel Ganache which comes with banana ice cream and a crunchy praline and gives it the definite thumbs up.

The quality of the food at Spagnoletti, in particular the pasta, lifts it high above the other Italian chain restaurants in the area. Of course it’s handy for the train but it’s well worth making a detour, even a special visit, to sample their dishes. And don’t forget to sample the cocktails in Hokus Pokus.

Spagnoletti 23 Euston Road, London, NW1 2SD, 020 7843 2221, hello@spagnoletti.co.uk

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