Last Updated on August 10, 2021
Italian style and excellent fine dining – Magenta, King’s Cross
Walk into Magenta, King’s Cross thinking this is just some run of the mill hotel bar and you’ll be stunned by the striking interiors.
Designed by Henry Chebaane, the restaurant itself is a glorious celebration of magenta, with beautiful velvet upholstery, clear glass lab bottles filled with backlit purple liquid and a vibrant, warehouse-style feel to celebrate the artistic culture of King’s Cross and the local immigrant Italian population. It’s a theatrical and unique experience.
The large central cocktail bar is a shiny stainless steel affair with magenta velvet-covered barstools, an excellent vantage point to watch the mixologist perform his magic. We hadn’t planned to drink cocktails before the meal, but it was oh so easy to be tempted – and I’m glad we were.
We tried two signature cocktails. Pink Pantera was made with rosé wine, select liqueur, raspberry, vanilla and tonic water. It comes topped with fluffy pink candy floss and a pink butterfly and the taste is of a ‘pink’ and raspberry concoction which only becomes over sweet if you are tempted by the candyfloss!
Meanwhile, Magenta a Fizz was a light and lemony mix of chamomile liqueur, prosecco, jasmine tea, lemon & grapes. Fragrant and slightly savoury it comes with three grapes threaded onto a cocktail stick balanced on top and a large and decorative Japanese mint leaf tucked into the glass.
Once we were seated for dinner, the table itself was a real talking point, its glass and resin top embedded with vine leaves, crushed grape juice and bunches of grapes from the Veneto region of Italy – all in shades of red and purple. The Italian menu on offer here has been curated by Executive Head Chef Manuele Bazzoni, who comes with a Michelin pedigree having worked previously at Trinity and Le Boudin Blanc. Here at Magenta, he’s aiming to provide fine dining in a relaxed setting – perfect for hotel guests, the local business community and casual diners visiting King’s Cross itself.
After we’d made our selections from the food menu Magenta’s sommelier went to work picking the perfect wine to complement our meal. One of us can’t drink red wine, so that was taken into account when he made his choice, the Verdeca ‘Talo’, San Marzano. A wine from Puglia in the ‘heel’ of Italy, was spot on. The wine comes from a small producer and was a perfectly smooth, greenish Italian white with hints of apple, lemon zest and lime. If like us, you love Italian wines, you’ll find that the wine list at Magenta is almost exclusively Italian, with one exception, champagne!
To start the meal, we were presented with a round loaf of dark charcoal sourdough to share. All of Magenta’s bread is homemade and their baker spent part of lockdown developing his own recipe for the charcoal sourdough. The warm bread was accompanied by a generous bowl of a fruity Sicilian extra virgin olive oil imported specially for Magenta, Spedalotto’s Tonda Iblea. This olive oil was so rich in flavour that it was almost spicy and an excellent complement for the earthy charcoal sourdough.
Our waiter brought us two types of tiny appetisers – pea and mozzarella tarts and pink choux buns with smoked goats cheese. Both were dainty and delicious so signs were good for the rest of our meal.
We hadn’t ordered but were treated to a ‘mustn’t miss’ antipasti. We shared the ‘This Morning Burrata’. As the name suggests the cheese was made that day by London’s La Latteria. The freshness really did come through in the deliciously oozing cheese, presented with charred apricot stuffed with lovage and pistachio pesto. This wasn’t a combination either of us had tried before and we were both impressed. It was a generous portion but we somehow managed to eat all of it…the freshest burrata I’ve tried since I was in Puglia.
We both picked pasta dishes for primi.
Goats curd & lemon tortellini with mint pesto and pea foam was a lovely colourful dish. the pasta was bright orange from the addition of tomato to the dough.
Scallop raviolo with samphire and a vermouth & lavender sauce came with a beautifully cooked scallop speared onto a lavender stalk. The single raviolo, with fresh herbs, rolled into the pasta dough, was filled with a light but rich scallop mousse. Lovely vermouth, lavender and dill sauce. The samphire provided a saline green contrast to what was a truly stunning dish.
The Magenta dinner menu is a set price, with one or two dishes having a supplement. Diners can also add side dishes if they wish. We somehow managed to resist adding the Hasselback potatoes with whipped stracchino cheese to our order…but it was a close call made only by our desire to leave space for dessert!
My ‘secondi’ of seared halibut with mushroom jam, lardo, fresh peas, girolles, tropea onion puree and nasturtium butter sauce was perhaps not the prettiest piece of fish I’ve seen, thanks to the lardo topping and mushroom jam. But, it helped to ensure that the halibut was flaky and perfectly moist while being well done throughout. It worked superbly well the nasturtium butter sauce which was served with a theatrical flourish by our waiter. The plate as a whole was very pretty with girolle mushrooms, baby broad beans and peppery nasturtium petals on the side. Tropea onions with a pureed onion filling were just a little overpowering with this delicate dish.
My companion’s suckling pig with black pudding and salt-baked celeriac came with grape mustard, apple and fennel pollen. She commented that it was a perfectly meaty concoction, the suckling pig tender, salty and delicious.
I’m not always a fan of black pudding but here it was delicious combined with juicy pork and fried in bread crumbs. The whole dish was served on a bed of finely slivered apple to offset any hint of fattiness. There was also a quenelle of salt baked celeriac dotted with grape mustard, a lovely compliment to the meaty elements. The whole dish was topped off by a long, crispy and delicious stick of pork crackling.
Certainly, both of our plates were left squeaky clean by the end!
Despite our greed/enthusiasm so far, the menu was well balanced enough that we both had room (just) for dessert. I had the Espresso coffee mousse and dark chocolate sorbet with crispy pastry shards and chocolate sauce. This was rich and delicious, the slightly salty pastry shards offsetting the sugary/chocolatey sweetness of the rest of the dish. My companion chose the Maldon sea salt and caramel ganache with Vecchia Romagna jelly and Piedmont hazelnut – a beautiful construction, a creamy mix of flavours alongside an oaty biscuit and toasted hazelnuts.
A quick tour of Megaro Hotel and of the stunning private dining space for twelve also introduced us to the ‘steampunk’ theme that forms the design of the main building.
We loved the steampunk mice and I’m left wondering if you stayed at the hotel what you’d find in your room…
23, Euston Road
King’s Cross, St Pancras
London NW1 2SD
If you are looking for something more casual, we recommend Granger & Co, an Antipodean restaurant just across the road
Disclosure – we dined as guests of Magenta Restaurant.