At the northern interface of London, Kings Cross station presents a majestic design with its new look today. This major railway terminus was erected in 1852 and connects you to the North East, Yorkshire and eastern Scotland. An extensive restoration scheme was undertaken in 2005 and over £500 million was expended to revamp this historic station to bring about a dazzling fresh appearance to the whole area.
In the 90s, this stretch had a different repute; it was petrifying to travel at night and people ducked this zone in the best part of the decade. Drug trafficking, psychopaths, street prostitution, backstreet mugging were all normal in this period. I recall shutting my eyes while passing this part of the city on bus after returning from work late night. After the New York Times and Zagat reviews, we saw a lot of Americans commuting to Rasa crossing the gateway of shady Kings Cross to reach us by Bus 73.
Influx of Eurostar services to mainland Europe effected St Pancras development, a real success for Kings Cross, and turned out to be a hip destination point. Having driven backstreets hundreds of times over the years and conjectured brainwaves for hefty construction works and money used up on a rundown neighbourhood, nonetheless all make sense now.
In search of Dishoom, a new restaurant opened in this area, we turned left after Kings Cross station into York way, drove almost half mile, bypassed new expansions in the vicinity, comprising enlarged station area for international terminal, and joined stable street on our left. Pushing large door behind a humble signage, we entered this lively restaurant split in three levels in a reconditioned Victorian warehouse.
Greeted courteously at the reception, we were directed to the bar downstairs; we were asked to wait an hour for our table in a crowded room. Relishing masala chai and banana chips, we shared sweet stories of Kovu (a cat) and appreciated the decent service in this trendy godown restaurant. Shortly we were escorted to our designated table at the main dining area in the middle of a cheering weekend crowd and a feast of Christmas colours.
An army of European staff, decor, menu—all designed for total novel curry experience—worked well for the restaurant. Our waitress explained the protocol of ordering and feature of their menu. In one breath, she said so much that I could barely understand anything besides “order many dishes for each person and they may arrive in different sequence when ready”.
Lakshmi and Ganesh ordered vegetarian food and Abhi chose his favourite non-vegetarian dishes. As our maître d’ implied, dishes arrived rapidly—Bhel, gunpowder aloo, pav bhaji and chicken tikka roll were plenty for entrée. Our main course of fish tikka, rajma chawal and black dal with garlic nan followed in no time.
After that long wait, four hungry people finished the delicious food in no time. My companions suggested, “To match the money spent on making this restaurant, flavours of food could have been better.” We were told that Indian soft drink, Thums-up, which Abhi ordered is still awaiting clearance in Mumbai port! As an emerging centre, Stable Street offers a lot of potential for growth and Dishoom definitely got the location and lucrative business model right.
We strolled back along the track to revel in some crisp cold breeze and marvelled at the grandeur feel of Kings Cross station under street lights. The fabulous steel structure of the roof, described by the makers as a reverse waterfall, is a white steel grid that swoops up from the ground and cascades over your head. An inexpensive meal in a terrific atmosphere and this electrifying view of modern architecture made our evening worth a journey. I couldn’t thank my friends enough for a great time.