Dining at the Booking Office, St Pancras
Eating dinner at the Booking Office, St Pancras is a surreal experience. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, this vaulted, wood-panelled room was the booking office for wealthy Victorians wishing to venture North by trains. Belles in delightful ball gowns would grace its hall, brimming with excitement as they made their escape.
Now, the old Grade 1 listed ticket booth has been enclosed in a 29 metre long bar so that the original structure remains but merges seamlessly into the modern. It’s a clever concept, combining authentic Victorian décor with modern decorations and furniture. Somehow it has the feel of a prestigious member’s club with dim, burgundy lighting. It feels intimate and charming even though there’s room to seat 250 diners.
I’m dining with Jon and Ben of NoMasCoach who have kindly invited me to meet up with them in London. We’ve had a fabulous day exploring the bowels of the Renaissance, indulging in afternoon tea at the Millennium Mayfair and are now putting the icing on the cake with dinner in a bar that ranks as my favourite in London.
I’ve spent a few indulgent nights in here over the years, but it is the first time I’m dining here. I have no idea what a treat I’m in for and I am super-excited.
We are lead to a private table neatly tucked away in a quiet corner, where I have a perfect vantage over the stunning station concourse housing idling Eurostar trains. The greatest difficulty comes in selecting our entrees and main courses from the tantalising selection on the menu. After plentiful deliberation between the pumpkin soup and scallops, the squid ink braised monkfish and the lemon sole, I settle on scallops and sole.
Ben and Jon opt for roasted bone marrow and cornish hand-dived scallop, squid ink braised monkfish and Gressingham duck breast. Awesome, more dishes for us all to try!
Not only does the food arrive looking tantalisingly pretty but it tastes delicious. The scallops are cooked in a hint of mustard with salad topping in vivid pinks and greens. They are cooked to perfection and melt in my mouth. I have to stop myself from groaning aloud at the pleasure.
Although I was somewhat deterred by the name of Ben’s starter, when his platter turns up, Jon and I are jostling for position to admire the juicy looking meat, oozing from the bone. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen before, a truly unique creation which looks totally divine in its simplicity.
As if the starters weren’t succulent enough, the lemon sole arrives in dramatic style. Two generous sized pieces take centre stage on my plate. Although cooked on the bone, it is prepared in such a way that I have no difficulty at all prising it from its skeleton. It’s soft, fluffy and ever so light.
What’s even more unexpected is the side of broccoli and chilli. Who would have thought something so simple could taste so mouth-wateringly good? The tang of spice lingers on the buttery florets and has me salivating. I find myself gushing about the vegetables to our friendly Sicilian waiter, Francesco, who is eager to stop by for a chat. Thankfully, he seems to share my enthusiasm for this delicious concoction so I don’t end up feeling like a total wally for getting carried away.
Jon and Ben are generous to a tee and offer samples of their dinner. It’s hard to pick a winner. The monkfish, like my sole, is perfectly seasoned. Jon’s duck is succulent, juicy and drizzled in cherry compote.
Wow, all these times I’ve visited and I have really been missing out on the main deal! It is a taste sensation!
We stick to wine of which there is an extensive selection. We opt for white, admire the glassware which would not look out of place on HRM The Queen’s table (after all this hotel was designed to resemble a palace!) and sip away. That warm glow of satisfaction descends – it has been a fabulous day, meeting new friends and experiencing new places. The wine turns out to be an excellent choice. Somehow, with all this temptation I conveniently forget I’m having a dry spell. Oops!
Equally surprising are the prices. You can download the full menu, but with individual starters from £8 and mains priced from £16, it is far from bank busting.
Alternatively, treat your loved one to a special Valentine’s Weekend menu.
Whether you are staying in the hotel or not, I highly recommend a dinner reservation at The Booking Office. you will be able to enjoy leisurely drinks (the cocktails are to die for by the way!) and food to fall in love with. The service is superb, the venue a step back in time and the ambience has me coming back time and time again.