22 February 2012

Dea Ex Machina: Karpo Review

Although Karpo sounds like a long-lost Marx brother, it's actually the name of the Greek goddess of "fruits of the earth," harvest and so on. It's also the name of a new restaurant in--shock, horror--King's Cross. When I saw the address (23 Euston Road) in a Daily Candy post, I thought it was odd that I hadn't noticed Karpo, given its proximity to King's Cross station. I catch my bus there and so I must have walked past the subtle, slim, glass-fronted restaurant, that hides behind scaffolding, between a bureau de change and a Burger King.

Karpo and its living wall
Karpo opened a little while ago but when we went to check it out last week, they still didn't have a menu on their website (they do now) and based on the provenance of the chef, Daniel Taylor, we were worried we might be priced out. Luckily, that wasn't a case and there were plenty of interesting choices on both the lunch menu and the brunch menu. I was tempted to try the burger but it comes with Gruyère cheese and a fried egg, and I prefer my burger with cheddar and/or bacon--or nothing. I also considered trying the hanger steak with bone marrow and shallots but in the end, went with a bacon omelette from the brunch menu. The omelette was very good, as were the frites with aïoli and Boston baked beans we had on the side. My only complaint was that the bacon wasn't well done enough for my liking (I like my bacon to be crisp and preferably streaky and smoked). Next time I will ask for extra-crispy bacon and we will see how they do.

Most of the rest of the menu had lots of interesting ingredients and from what I could see of other people's food, everything looked tasty and nicely presented. We didn't have time for a proper pudding (pink peppercorn meringue &passion fruit frozen yoghurt? Yes, please!) but instead raided the bakery. My chocolate and hazelnut brownie was rich, moist and delicious. Indeed, when we returned for sweet meats on another occasion, the barman (actually, I think it might have been Taylor himself!) tried to talk me out of the muffin I had ordered and told me to try the brownie. I explained I'd already had the brownie and loved it and the Jedi mind trick resulted in me failing to order what I wanted. Regardless, the cakes and pastries all look delicious and I will definitely be back to try the macaroons. And also the pancakes with bacon and maple syrup that are served at breakfast time.

Yummy baked goods--and a lovely view of the Euston Road
The restaurant itself is light and airy with a living wall where some of the ingredients are grown; others are grown on the roof. There isn't a great choice when it comes to eating near King's Cross; you used to have to choose between cheapo greasy spoons and over-priced gastro pubs. But Karpo brings a via media: casual, thoughtful, tasty, all-day dining.

Karpo. 23 Euston Road, London, NW1 2SB (Tube: King's Cross). Website. Twitter.

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