When I visited: June and November 2015 and August 2016
Location: London, Gatwick Airport (King’s Cross branch now closed)
Rating in the Michelin Guide: Not in Guide (used to be recommended)
What to wear: Could go casual
Ambience: Low-voltage bulbs, big, wooden furniture, vintage, ‘edgy’, different sized tables and chairs, industrial decor
Course of the meal: Butternut squash ravioli
If I could change one thing: Better seating policy at the start
I flew over to Grain Store after flying back from Newcastle to London late one Sunday afternoon, and enjoyed the fun, edge Shoreditch-esque ambience along with the healthy small dishes as a late lunch. For drinks we had a green tomato margarita and a carrot and orange cooler (carrot and orange with lemon). For mains we had a yoghurt and chickpea frittata with avocado, chilli and chorizo and tomatoes, and a vegetable empanada with chilli beans and a green, light, delicious salad. My partner Owl also had a dessert – a lime and coconut tapioca with sweet potato and banana crisps.
Unfortunately, our experience at the start of the second visit wasn’t great. Even though lots of tables were free, they didn’t want to immediately seat us and made us wait in the bar (obviously to make us buy more drinks). This just had the effect of annoying us as I was super-hungry. They asked for our number to text us when a table was ready – completely pointless when they are only a few feet away. When they came over (rather than texting) to say that a table was ready, we had to walk through a weird plant thing to get there.
We had green tomato margaritas (slightly bitter, refreshing) and a Death in Venice cocktail. The drinks are good but not as innovative or tasty as the food. Once the food started to arrive I couldn’t help but cheer up as it really was very good and very consistent throughout the whole meal.
We started with a baked beetroot carpaccio with fermented beetroot dressing and spiced labneh, and green tomato miso chilli and lime glazed octopus. These starters were perfectly balanced, and healthy while being super-tasty. The mains were roasted wild duck with chestnut and pickled walnuts, red leaves, baked onion, sliced bread sauce, and grated chilli chocolate; and butternut squash ravioli with mustard apricots, rocket and pumpkin seeds. The butternut squash ravioli was amazingly tasty, maybe one of the best examples of this dish that I’ve had, with the pasta pieces kept nice and small and the apricots cutting through the flavour.
The desserts retained healthy elements while being satisfying. We had a lemon and jasmin tea petit pot with raspberry shortbread, and the chocolate delice, which had a slight bitter taste, offset with pina colada mousse and toasted coconut pieces. The raspberry shortbread was amazing but the texture of the petit pot was not quite right – a bit solid and the top and liquid at the bottom, as if it hadn’t set properly. The chocolate device was a great choice – I’d highly recommend it.
I was pleased to see that there is now a branch of the Grain Store in the South Terminal of Gatwick Airport, so stopped off there with my partner Owl before flying away for the weekend. I went for the superfood bowl, which was tasty if huge, and my partner Owl’s Parma ham salad with grapefruit dressing was also good, although we had to ask for the poached duck egg quite a few times before it arrived. The service was very friendly though, and a pre-flight visit to a restaurant like this certainly bits the normal selection of tired sandwiches and stodgy junk food available at airports.
Overall, despite the minor problems outlined above, I really wish that more places like the Grain Store existed in London and if some hybrid of this and Rouge Tomate could come to my area, I would be a very happy Owl.