The Lighterman reopens – A Pre-Covid Review.
We were invited to review The Lighterman just before lockdown. Rather than tempt everyone with something that wasn’t opened, we put the review on ice till now – the reopening of The Lighterman on the 4th July for both dinner and drinks
The Lighterman has a wonderful location on the edge of Coal’s Drop Yard which is, these days, a must-go area behind Kings Cross buzzing with bars, restaurants, boutiques, chic furniture stores and upmarket food shops. The restaurant is housed in a two-storied building with a rooftop terrace. It has a pub on one floor and a smarter eatery on the floor above. In warmer weather, the outdoor terrace must be a lovely place to dine and watch the endless stream of inner-city life go by.
Entering the restaurant, we were struck by the view which, even at night, was impressive. On the one side lay Granary Square while, on the other, the Guardian building blazed in the distance while the Regent’s Canal lay below with a few barges bobbing about. Illuminated cranes created an urban landscape – the area is still under intensive development. All of this can be viewed from inside The Lighterman courtesy of its wrap-around glass walls. While the aesthetic benefits from all this glass, the acoustic does not. The sound of voices in a packed restaurant reverberated off every surface and my partner and I had to speak in raised voices all evening. I noticed other diners also having to lean in to hear one another. It is not conducive to a good conversation over dinner. However, for those who like their ambience on the lively side, The Lighterman delivers.
The service was efficient and very friendly and in no time we were sipping on cocktails while investigating the menu. My partner chose a seasonal G&T with Silent Pool Gin, plum and rosemary, and Double Dutch Grapefruit and Bergamot tonic. It looked very refreshing even on a chilly night. I opted for a simple flute of Billecart-Salmon champagne. A small Kilner jar of nocellara olives were a tasty nibble that accompanied our drinks.
The choice of sharing boards was tempting and we selected The Lighterman Vegetarian Board as a starter. An attractive board held five small dishes, a pretty crudité salad and flatbread with a good snap. The best of the selection was the small goats’ cheese croquettes which were lovely with a top-notch smoked tomato jam. Spiced almond and artichoke benefitted from the colour and heat of paprika. The beetroot dip and the aubergine confit had lost texture with an over-enthusiastic use of the blender but were nicely flavoured
As a pescatarian (mostly) I look forward to eating out as restaurant chefs can prepare far more exciting fish dishes than I can. The Lighterman menu was a bit on the light side for me – a choice of either fish and chips or salmon did not tempt. So I fell off the fishy wagon and chose the main course of Scottish Fallow Venison Loin. I rarely eat red meat but I absolutely adore venison, so I looked forward to my meal. Four slices of loin were lovely and pink but rather lacking in depth of flavour, though this might appeal to those preferring a less gamey taste. The butternut squash and truffle had some lost texture through over pureeing while the mash side dish (also with truffle) was a little heavy for me. A side dish of green vegetables added a fresh, healthy note.
My partner’s ribeye steak with red wine, truffle and bone marrow sauce was well portioned and looked very appetising though we felt the meat would have benefitted from longer ageing to bring out the flavour. The skinny fries were delicious.
The pace picked up during the dessert which was the best of the courses. I enjoyed a scoop each of blackcurrant and orange sorbet. A fresh end to the meal, not too sweet and very colourful.
I really liked the few spoonfuls of my partner’s choice – Williams pear and almond crumble. This looked pretty in a cast iron dish and was served with a small jug of cinnamon custard which was a flavoursome touch. It had a good crunchy crumble and soft chunks of fruit – just as it should be. I would eat this again. The crumble was served with a dessert wine – 2016 Juranҫon Domaine de Souch.
The Lighterman has a great location and presents a menu that satisfies many requirements be it vegetarian or meat. It could increase its fish selection. All dishes are well presented and appetising, albeit a little bland at times for my own palate. It was packed out on a Thursday night with happy diners though. There’s an excellent vibe and I suspect it’s the kind of place where food takes second place to the conversation and an appealing and straightforward menu makes for a great evening out.
3 Granary Square,
London, N1C 4BH
Looking for something different? We also recommend Rotunda Restaurant in King’s Cross which reopens from 10th July and we particularly love Vermuteria in Coal Drops Yard, currently offering takeaway only, but in an area where there are plenty of places for al-fresco dining