It’s a bright Sunday afternoon in King’s Cross and there’s a vibrant atmosphere all around. When I first moved to London over 8 years ago, I always saw King’s Cross as merely a busy commuter hub.
It’s a bright Sunday afternoon in King’s Cross and there’s a vibrant atmosphere all around. When I first moved to London over 8 years ago, I always saw King’s Cross as merely a busy commuter hub, save for that time I joined the crowds at Platform 9 ¾ for that coveted “I’m off to Hogwarts” photo opp. But a lot has changed over the past few years and with big tech companies like Google and Facebook opening offices in the area, a flurry of restaurants, bars, and independent shops followed suit. I make my way to Gasholders, the cylindrical building situation inside the towering gasholder frames from the Victorian period. On the ground floor sits Porte Noire, the bistro and wine bar owned by wine expert and entrepreneur David Farber and actor Idris Elba. I’m meeting my best friend to try out their new brunch menu, which has a selection of specials, French-inspired brunch items, and of course, wine, cocktails, and bubbles on offer.
If you’re thinking a gloomy wine bar isn’t the best place for brunch, think again. Farber joins us at our table and tells us that having an outdoor terrace right by the canals was a must when he was deciding on the space. His friendly pooch Cooper, who has turned into the restaurant mascot, takes a break from saying hello to guests to pop onto a chair next to us as well. We comment on the friendly staff on and how welcoming the space is. “We really wanted to bring that sense of continental hospitality back to London,” explains Farber, himself being a French export. “If you think about the city, and even just our staff here, a large percentage of us are expats. There’s something about coming to a place where people remember you.” We talk about the wine world and how it can seem so uninviting and Farber explains that he takes a different approach at Porte Noir. “I see it like a triangle—it’s about the wine, the food, and the person. Many sommeliers don’t factor in personal tastes, but it doesn’t matter if the food and wine go together, if the guest doesn’t like that type of wine, what’s the point?” he says.
After sampling Porte Noire’s delicious Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs , we had one of the specials on offer for the day: a fresh and tangy seabass ceviche with maiz chulpe (Peruvian dried corn)—a great representation of the type of bright, seasonal wine bar experience Farber was talking about. Other standout dishes included the extremely high quality charcuterie plate, the egg royale, the lighter take on a traditional tartiflette with reblochon, and the exquisite burnt matcha cheesecake.
“In London, it’s either you’re in a suit and tie having wine at Pall Mall or you’re in East London where it’s all natural wine-geared, but in between there’s nothing,” explains Farber. Porte Noire in King’s Cross confidently fills that gap. With its wine cork wall, bottle opener coat racks, and top-notch food and service, it’s the perfect spot for a girl’s night, romantic date, or weekend brunch with the family.
Brunch is available from 12-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Porte Noire Restaurant & Wine bar
Address: Gasholder 10, unit A, London N1C 4BY, United Kingdom
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