The success of King’s Cross’s dalliance with gentrification has seen so many high-end restaurant’s spring up in the crenulated shadow of St Pancras that it’s easy to forget that it was not ever thus. Rotunda, a gloriously airy bar and restaurant with a wheel-like shape to match its name, saw the light early; opening a full 11 years ago. Amongst the clutch of brand spanking new eateries, Rotunda’s venerability practically makes it King’s Cross’s answer to John-The-Baptist; but there’s nothing tired about the food on offer. The biggest aesthetic pull is the expansive outdoor dining area directly on the Regent’s Canal, which offers the kind of view that most Beef Club at Rotunda restaurateurs would cheerfully murder their first born for. Sadly September being what it is, lashings of rain kept us admiring the snaking waterway firmly behind Rotunda’s windows whilst we made our way through the intimidatingly stacked Sunday Beef Club.
The first thing to know is that Beef Club is pricey. If you want to put a cap on your weekend with carnivorous panache, that’ll be £65 a head (or £45 without booze) for a minimum of two. The second thing to know is that you are getting serious bang for your buck. First on the agenda is a selection of chef chosen canapés as an amuse bouche: in our case a tart little mouthful of pork terrine with crème fraîche and a more sophisticated smoked aubergine and pomegranate. This comes served with either a glass of fizz or Bloody Mary for those shaking off the last dregs of a Saturday night out. Surprisingly, we were both hangover free and so, glass of fizz in hand, we got down to the meal proper. The first course is a seafood platter; nothing too complicated, but wonderfully executed. A hollowed out crab exoskeleton overflowing with both brown and white crab meat, huge half-stripped Atlantic prawns buried in an explosively tangy marie rose sauce and the highlight: thick tranches of delicious smoked salmon peppered with cucumber, all accompanied with slices of sourdough and butter to scoop up any of the remainder. So many restaurants try and get high concept with their seafood that it’s easy to forget the power of well sourced, great tasting fish presented in the classic fashion.
Still, this is only the appetisers and it pales before the course that gives Beef Club its name. All Rotunda’s meat comes from the restaurant’s own Northumberland farm and their Roast Corneyside sirloin is a powerful argument for controlling the means of production. Served on a single enormous platter (the vegetables come separate) the meat is sinfully rich. Compulsively flavourful and heartbreakingly tender: this is well and truly the real deal. Whilst there’s more than a little fat that comes along for the ride, this is a serious (if delicious) mountain for two diners to climb, particularly after the seafood. This is also not to forget the heaped trays of carrots, enormous duck fat roast potatoes and two Yorkshire puddings, big as castles and fluffy as clouds, all served with a little pot of umami gravy to keep things interesting. Thankfully this was washed down with a half a bottle each of of your personal wine of choice: I went for a fresh and fruity Rioja Joven whilst my luminous companion sipped demurely at a Gros Manseng. Altogether there’s so much food that sobriety is maintained relatively well, though admittedly there was pleasant softening of focus as the afternoon wore on. Even our waiter looked impressed at the completely demolished roast and it was fair to say we were not exactly clamouring for desert. However it’s definitely worth pushing through the barrier as the deserts on offer were a more than worthy victory lap. We both opted for Tiramisu baked cheesecake punctuated with Vin Santo blueberries, which was deeply tasty yet as light as a feather.
At this point you’re entitled to some postprandial drinks to wind down, with a selection of port, Irish coffee or an espresso martini if you want really kick things up a notch on Sunday evening. Unable to commit to an entire day boozing we left the martini and stuck with the port bringing our membership of the Sunday Beef Club to an end. Altogether a delightful restaurant with stunning views and a more than enviable spread. Apparently spaces are limited for the Beef Club each Sunday so it’s advisable to book ahead rather than just drift in off the canal. The only real issue is by the time you finish, alas, it’s practically Monday.
90 York Way, Kings Cross, N1 9AG
T: 020 7014 2840