28 June 2016

Brunch on the Towpath at The Lighterman

I've been eating a lot of brunch lately (yes, even for me). Let's face it: with less pleasant six-letter words that begin with br- dominating the headlines, we've all been needing some comfort food. A group of girlfriends and I try to go for brunch together once a month — more often when our schedules permit — and our latest destination was The Lighterman in King's Cross.

The Lighterman finally opened up a few months ago, perched above Regent's Canal in Granary Square, which is also home to Caravan, The Grain Store and St Martin's. I say "finally" because The Lighterman is very close to my office and it is on my lunchtime running route along the canal, so I have been watching the new building gradually come together for some time now. Set over three floors, The Lighterman has a pub/bar next to the towpath and two dining rooms on the higher floors.

It was a gorgeous and sunny when we arrived, which made the al fresco seating areas an attractive prospect, but with heavy rain forecast, we took a table inside, on the middle level. The d├ęcor is chic and simple, with mismatched tables (some wooden, some brass) and pops of forest green and yellow. We arrived at 11 am and it wasn't too busy, although there weren't many free tables by the time we left. The ground floor (middle) dining room is spacious and airy and there as a lively but relaxed ambiance. The Lighterman's name comes from "the industrial past of King’s Cross, and the Victorian Lightermen who worked on flat-bottomed barges, known as “Lighters”, on the canals and rivers of London." We didn't see any Lighters but there were great views over the canal.

The brunch menu is divided into 'eggs' (Cotswold eggs, to be more specific) and non-egg dishes; the latter are, for the most part, lighter dishes like coconut granola and toasted crumpets. I immediately spotted a dish on the 'eggs' menu that achieved two out of three of the classic brunch trifecta of avocado, poached eggs and bacon. In a menu decision that will shock no one, I ordered the crushed avocado on toast with poached eggs and herbs (£7.50), with a side of bacon. It was such a good choice that three of the other four ladies ordered the same dish; the other rebelled and had a side of cherry tomatoes instead.

The avocado was nicely garnished and the egg perfectly runny on the inside. The bacon wasn't quite as crispy as I would have liked (to be fair, the chef had had to whip up four portions at once) but the serving size was generous.

Given Friday's referendum result, I skipped coffee and went straight for a Bloody Mary (£8), with gin instead of vodka. The spice mix was really rich and with just enough heat, and it game with a sun-dried tomato and pickle garnish as well as the usual celery. In other words, it was the perfect brunch cocktail.

After brunch, we wandered around Granary Square, where a KERB event called Noshville was taking place. We were too full for an ice cream or doughnut pudding and I was definitely too full to have a ride on the 'Brexit bucking bronco'. Besides, the clouds were darkening and it was time for us to seek shelter.

The Lighterman. 3 Granary Square, London, N1C 4BH (Tube: King's Cross). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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