Anthony Demetre’s Casual Dining at Vermuteria, King’s Cross.
If you review restaurants where do you go with friends when you are not officially reviewing? In my case, often my favourite of the places I’ve reviewed. Or, a restaurant or bar from the same family. Vermuteria in the achingly popular Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross falls into the latter category, the wine bar ‘little sister’ of Anthony Demetre’s Wild Honey St James. It’s the kind of place where you can graze on small plates, drink a bottle or two of wine or enjoy a glass of vermouth and still keep your bank manager happy. And it’s the sort of place where no one will rush you out and you can easily waste a few hours in happy conversation.
I arrived at a table already primed with glasses of Aperol Spritz – one of those summer drinks which seems to have become almost ubiquitous. We ordered the cheapest white wine on the list – a very respectable picpoul de pinet for £33 and some padron peppers to keep us going while we worked through the menu, an assortment of small plates with a Spanish twist.
In the end, our group of three picked six more dishes, starting with Bay of Biscay anchovies to complement the plump tender padron peppers.
We loved the Vermuteria cured meat croquettes with a chilli laced tomato salsa and personally I’d have happily ordered a second round.
Roasted new seasons beetroots with goats curd and endives was the kind of plate I’d have expected to find in Wild Honey St James’s – it was delicious with a light honey and nut laced dressing.
I was also impressed with the spinach and ricotta ravioli – perfectly al dente and with a rich beurre noisette and a garnish of toasted cashews adding textural interest.
While the steak tartare was perfectly tasting, with a delicious vinaigrette dressing, I have a bit of a dislike of eggs and found the classic topping of a raw egg just a bit too much for me. But there was no shortage of food to choose from.
Fillet of Welsh lamb was sweet and perfectly cooked with classic English sides of Cornish potatoes and peas.
Along with more wine, I enjoyed a dark chocolate brownie with a nutty pistachio ice-cream. My companion ordered an affogato which bizarrely came with more pistachio ice-cream.
A few coffees later, we rolled out of the restaurant. Somehow, we’d managed to spend three hours over lunch, without any sense of feeling rushed or of waiting too long between dishes. We’d had plenty of space to chat and the delicious, simple and well-presented food gave the three of us just enough to chat about without having to obsess.
Would I have guessed this was an outpost from the same person who runs Wild Honey at St James and is famous for his simple French food? No. But, it was nevertheless a great success with a series high quality, beautifully cooked and presented dishes
Small plates at Vermuteria range from £4 to £15 and there are also charcuterie and cheese plates available. The kind of place to meet up with friends or to grab a bite to eat if you are by yourself in the King’s Cross area, it is decently priced and has a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere.
38/39 Coal Drops Yard,
London N1C 4DQ