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King's Cross: London's new coolest destination

Helen Alexander

Senior Contributor

Following the transformation of abandoned railway arches and sheds behind King’s Cross train station, a once derelict neighbourhood is now home to a buzzing culinary and cultural complex. Find out why N1C is fast-becoming London’s coolest postcode.

Cutting-edge design

Walk north from King’s Cross train station, across Regent’s Canal, and you’ll find yourself at Coal Drops Yard – an eye-catching culinary and cultural complex that looks so good it recently won the prestigious RIBA National Award 2019 for its architectural achievements.

From the creative exhibitions hosted at the House of Illustration to the art-house films and blockbuster movies screened at the plush Everyman Cinema, there’s plenty to do here all year round. That’s in addition to the regular food and craft markets that take place in nearby Granary Square. There are also plenty of green spaces where locals come to relax with a picnic – like Gasholder Park that’s located inside a few imposing wrought-iron structures, which serve as a stunning reminder of the area’s Victorian heritage.

In summer, the grass-covered steps that lead down to the canal turn into a sociable outdoor arena as sporting events like Wimbledon and family-friendly films are screened and ice creams and sorbets from local gelateria Ruby Violet are served from a vintage bicycle. 

Renowned restaurants

Start your day with coffee at Redemption Roasters, before checking out Coal Drop Yard’s various restaurant offerings. From casual, counter-service sandwich shops like Bodega Rita’s and Sons + Daughters to fancier offerings such as Hicce from Pip Lacey (who was the former head chef at Angela Hartnett’s Murano in Mayfair). The sumptuous surrounds of Coal Office, which serves modern Middle Eastern fare, are not to missed either – kitted out by designer extraordinaire Tom Dixon, it’s a highly Instragrammable affair while the menu runs from shakshuka for breakfast to high-end kebabs for dinner.

It’s not just newcomers who are attracting hungry diners. A number of iconic London restaurants have opened venues in NC1. Serving grilled seafood and beachside snacks that are inspired by the coastal route that runs from Colombo to Galle, there’s a Sri Lankan feast on offer at Hoppers, which is best accompanied by a Tropical Lager that’s made in collaboration with nearby Camden Town Brewery. While the mint-green interiors and perfect pasta dishes that earnt Line Stores a cult following at its Soho venue are now bringing a taste of Italian elegance to Stable Street.

At the end of the day, sip cocktails overlooking the water at The Lighterman, where the speciality serve is the Canal Water that’s made with bourbon, matcha tea, yuzu sake, egg white and elderflower or make it a musical evening at Spiritland, which plays classic vinyl albums and regularly hosts guest DJs on their turntables. Night-time eats include Casa Pastor’s house-made tortillas, zingy ceviche and mezcal-spiked cocktails and Barrafina’s renowned European-influenced small plates. 

Retail therapy

Both emerging names and established brands have found a home for themselves under Coal Drops Yards’ so-called ‘kissing roof’, which is the result of two former coal depots that have been connected by a 25-metre-high a twisting, arcing steel structure. Check out the Tom Dixon flagship store that’s filled with covetable homewares, Miller Harris perfumery for fresh fragrances and Blackhorse Lane Ateliers – the city’s first craft jean maker.

Men about town should head to Universal Works for easy-to-wear collections, while everything that’s required for a stylish al fresco adventure can be found at Outsiders Store. Then there’s delicate lingerie at Beija, fine footwear from Joseph Cheaney & Sons, and fashionable frames at eyewear specialist Cubitts. 

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