Kings Cross Dining – The Lighterman
In the 16th and 17th Centuries, a lighterman was the person who steered the flat-bottomed barges used to transfer goods. An important part of the Port of London, lightermen would transfer goods from the lighters, on or off the lighters and then to the quay-side. Their role is now obsolete, but, in Granary Square now, looking out over the Regent’s Canal, and paying tribute to that heritage, is The Lighterman, a gastropub over three floors, with spectacular views and a wrap around balcony.
The Ground Floor is a walk-in bar with food. Buzzing with life, it’s somewhere to meet up with friends for a relaxed night out. Upstairs, though, there’s a large restaurant with panoramic windows which even on a winter’s evening feels light and airy. We went along to try the food and some cocktails and were pleasantly surprised. My cocktail, the Conductor’s Flute was a heady mix of Saliza Amaretto, fig, agave, lemon and prosecco. My companion picked a Bloody Mary. None of the cocktails cost more than £10 so, there’s no issue with indulging a little!
Meanwhile, we were working our way through the menu. There’s a selection of starters and some flatbreads, which I imagine would be good for sharing. A few main course salads and a shortish list of hot main course dishes. Then, what I’m guessing is the highlight of the menu, the wood fired grill dishes.
I opted for Crispy Squid with chilli and lime to start. It arrived, prettily plated and turned out to be rather good, with a light batter, a small bowl of sticky sweet chilli sauce and a segment of lime.
My companion’s rather more adventurous choice was white onion soup with cheddar and truffle toastie. While the concept sounds fabulous he wasn’t too keen on the toasties which he said had little truffle flavour. I suspect that any combination of cheddar and truffle would be hard to balance.
I was particularly impressed by my main course of swordfish steak with red pepper and caper salsa. The chunky swordfish steak came with a delicious char but wasn’t in the least bit overcooked. And the red pepper and caper salsa made a lovely accompaniment, along with a portion of chips and some lemon butter.
My companion picked the 300g dry aged rib eye, which was served medium rare with a roasted garlic bulb on top and a side order of baked Jerusalem artichokes. While the overall visual effect wasn’t great, he really enjoyed the steak and thought the artichokes made a good and unusual accompaniment, albeit rather a generous portion.
The menu allows you to choose sides and sauces from a list which includes skin-on-fries, baby gem with yoghurt and herb dressing, green beans, shallots and toasted almonds and hispi cabbage with bone marrow butter and pancetta. And, other grill options include a range of burgers (including a vegetarian sweet potato burger with halloumi), Herdwick lamb chops and crispy breaded chicken escalope. So there are plenty of options.
For dessert we picked the apple and quince crumble with cinnamon cream, accompanied by a glass of 2015 Jurançon, Charles Hours to share. Crumble is one of those puddings which restaurants seem to be very capable of messing up. Here, it was spot on and the addition of quince to the fruit base made a lovely piquant flavour.
All in, we were impressed with the quality of food at the Lighterman. It’s the kind of place which doesn’t have many pretences but serves routinely good food for reasonable prices. If I worked in the area it’s definitely the kind of place I’d arrange to meet friends, you can choose to just drink or can enjoy a full meal upstairs. And I would imagine that in the summer when the upstairs terrace is open and there’s a canal-side bar too, it’s a lovely place to while away an evening.
3 Granary Square,
Kings Cross, London N1C 4BH