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A late spring Lunch Club brought us to The Rotunda in King’s Cross, where our crack team of PAs and event bookers got to test drive the 12-seat private dining room within the restaurant at Kings Place. We kicked off with a Champagne reception in the bar, where floor-to-ceiling windows look out over the canal-side terrace (which can also be booked for events) before moving through to the PDR for a six-course lunch.
The room’s musical theme – instruments and monochrome pictures of The Beatles adorn the walls – helped to create a cool, relaxed atmosphere and it wasn’t long before we were greeted by the senior restaurant manager, Liz Reece, who set the tone for an up-beat meal. Opening with a cheery introduction, she continued to offer witty anecdotes between each course, delivered with the verve of a stage performer. It came as no surprise to learn she once trod the boards. With conversation already in full flow as the amuse bouche was served, we hardly noticed when the home-cured treacle and lemon salmon blinis were placed in front of us – but it didn’t take long for attentions to shift.
Palates cleansed and primed for more, we moved on to the starter: seared fillet of 32-day aged Northumbrian beef, served with wild mushroom and truffle duxelle, and a soft quail’s egg. Reece proudly ran through the story of the meat, which comes from the restaurant’s farm in Northumberland. It’s even matured in the Rotunda’s own hanging room (ask to have a look – it’s really cool!) before being butchered by the chefs, all just metres from the dining room. Before even tasting her main, Jo Francis from Local Partnerships declared our intermediate course – pan-fried stone bass, fennel and monks’ beard with sauce vierge – her dish of the day. And she had followers, though some changed their mind when the rack of lamb arrived. Served daringly rare to allow the quality of meat to shine through, it was paired with braised gem lettuce, heirloom tomato dressing, Cornish new potatoes and a glass of Morgon ‘Côte du Py’ Jean Foillard 2009, which was very well received. Made from the often neglected Gamay grape, it offered an unusual alternative to the de rigueur Pinot noir-for-lamb combination.
The dessert wine was a South African Muscat called Vin de Constance, which Reece revealed was recently described by a prominent wine critic as being ‘better than drugs’. Our more regular lunch clubbers must have known: a good few had made sure to book the afternoon off. Combined with Tahitian vanilla panna cotta – an excellent consistency – poached Yorkshire rhubarb and walnut sable to finish, it made for quite the pudding. As the petits fours came out, our group – many of whom had never heard of Rotunda before, let alone visited – decided that the restaurant was a secret too well kept. ‘I can’t believe I didn’t know about it,’ said Lauren Brady, an events coordinator with Distilled. ‘I genuinely think this venue is incredible, it is totally a one-stop shop.’
The Rotunda restaurant is located inside Kings Place on York Way. This new-build venue is something close to magnificent, offering a number of generously designed spaces with clean, modern interiors. Its high-spec auditorium has space for up to 420 seated delegates and there’s also a string of smaller event spaces, among which is the regularly updated art gallery, where Mr Hirst’s work featured on our visit. The team behind Rotunda caters for all events in the building.
✚ 90 York Way, N1 9AG, tel: 020 7520 1473
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events, summer 2012