Both my guest and I (guest? It was my mum) got a bit lost as we wended our way to the Great Northern Hotel this week, which sits between the newly-refurbished King's Cross Station and its close neighbour St. Pancras. It's all those exits - utterly baffling.
The set-up of the GNH seems deliberate, it feels more like an out-of-the-way watering hole than a travel tavern slapped right in the middle of one of London's busiest rail districts.
That's a good thing, because the dining room at celeb chef Mark Sargeant's new venture Plum + Spilt Milk is an oasis away from the bustle below, while maintaining a retro, authentic vibe without trying too hard.
Its goal is - according to the blurb - about "creating a menu based on beautiful British ingredients cooked simply yet creatively". It did what it says. Almost everything on the set lunch menu got me interested (a rarity for me), but I plumped for a la carte and wasn't disappointed. My mum did go with the prix fixe and the disparity was minimal, something that's not always the case in top flight restaurants.
I began with potted shrimp and the butter-to-animal ratio was well within acceptable levels. Plump and meaty, they tasted great. My mother started with pigeon and elderberries on toast, the bird succulent, the bread crust a little tough. "Though I'm glad I'm eating something seasonal," said Mum.
She followed that with John Dory, which sat amongst plentiful artichoke hearts and girolles. The fish's skin was crisp, though Mum suggested the flesh might have been a little overcooked for connoisseurs. Looked fine to me. We worried that the chilli courgettes we got as a side dish would be overbearing, but our lovely French waitress assured us otherwise. She wasn't wrong.
I went for venison and it was delicious. The loin tender, the earthy sweetness of the celeriac mash it came with working well alongside the gravy.
Mum felt obliged to finish with the titular pudding, the cake that served as the plum's platter having a fantastic texture with good bite. My cold chocolate and blackberry fondant was basically a choccy mousse. And it was bloody lovely.
The wine too worked well. The house white was zesty and easy to drink. Being allergic to red, the waitress kindly let me taste a couple of white suggestions to go with my deer.
This was good food simply cooked and well-presented. You could treat yourself before an afternoon Eurostar to France, or just as well sit and enjoy it as a proper day or night out.
Just make sure you know which exit to use.