My parents celebrated their silver anniversary recently! (Wait, does that make me old...?) After they'd enjoyed a whirlwind trip to India, the whole family gathered for lunch at Bruno Loubet's Grain Store to celebrate 25 years of Mama and Papa Lim.
Grain Store is housed, as the name might suggest, in the old Granary building behind King's Cross (alongside Caravan and Central St. Martin's), formerly a repository of Lincolnshire wheat for London's bakers in the 19th century. Like Caravan and Dishoom (two of my favourites on the same square), it's got a wonderfully airy, industrial vibe. Basically it's the kind of place I'd love to hang out all day in with a chai latte and laptop, in typical yuppie fashion.
Grain Store has been around for a while now, but just in case you hadn't heard about it, the concept here revolves around (rightfully) making vegetables the star of the show. Which is why I loved the dual significance behind this neon in the bathroom...and kind of wanted to take it home with me.
Vegetables even come to the fore on the drinks menu, with tipples on offer ranging from green tomato margaritas to a campari cooler featuring carrot and a champagne cocktail perked up with oregano bitters. I thought the sweet potato bellini, above, was surprisingly pleasant-tasting and smooth. Though my own choice of drink was just the cutest thing...
Presenting the Heidi Smoothie, an utterly kawaii concoction of bee pollen, honey, banana, buttermilk and oats. I definitely felt like letting out a wholesome yodel after a sip of this baby. Delicious.
The beauty of veggie dishes is that they can be prepared incredibly quickly. For starters we ordered wild garlic and silken tofu soup (just seen, above)...
Pea tartlets with Parmesan 'crackling' and truffle...
And my choice, compressed watermelon, padrón peppers, pecorino and olive 'truffles'. I'd heard great things about this dish in the numerous reviews I'd read (all part of the research package, naturally) and it really didn't disappoint. The padrón peppers had the perfect amount of bite and a smoky taste from being grilled, which went perfectly with the 'truffles'. The watermelon, meanwhile, definitely took centre stage - each little cube so concentrated that it was almost reminiscent of the texture of meat.
And next, mains! I ordered the potato pancake topped with sour cream leeks, a poached duck egg, and a sprinkling of tobiko wasabi caviar.
For the patriarch: Korean slaw, a kaffir lime chicken burger and fried egg on muffin. Of course the man of the family had to opt for the meatiest dish on the menu at a vegetarian concept restaurant!
Yoghurt and chickpea pancake, avocado, tomato and jalapeño salad for...someone. (Cursing my sieve-like memory.)
And a little family tradition: chips for the table. Adhering to the theme with this adorable flowerpot presentation and accompanied by a seriously delicious herby aïoli.
My potato pancake was utterly gorgeous (check the #eggporn above), but truth be told, it was way too big for me to finish, not helped by the fact that the inside of the pancake was a little more monotonous to eat than the top.
For dessert: rice pudding pannacotta, chilli pineapple with miso fudge. Sadly I wasn't overly impressed with this dish either - the whole hunk of pineapple was way too big for dessert (in my opinion), making it hard to eat, and the rice in the pannacotta was a little too hard for my liking. I loved the ideas behind this pudding on paper though, and had the pineapple been presented in little glazed chunks (like the watermelon of my earlier dish) I'd have found the dish far more palatable.
Lyonnaise 'bugnes', matcha tea crème brûlée, raspberry sorbet. I didn't get to try much of this one but apparently it was very good, with a subtle green tea flavour.
Beetroot and chocolate cake, pink grapefruit and orange gel. As you may be aware, I'm a massive fan of beetroot chocolate cake, and this one was excellent - fudgy and rich, and complemented perfectly by a generous dollop of crème fraîche. I ended up being the one to finish this dish off (proud).
Overall, a meal not without its flaws, but a wonderful concept with some great dishes (that watermelon will stick in my mind until I cave and make a special trip back to order it again...) and a really lovely place to ring in my parents' silver wedding anniversary. I'm currently trying to lead a semi-pescetarian diet, so vegging out at restaurants like these is ideal for me. Any other veggie restaurant recommendations would be greatly appreciated!