Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Big Chill House Kings Cross review - perfect for hanging out


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Address: 257-259 Pentonville Road,
London N1 9NL
Tel: 020 7427 2540
Nearest Tube station: King's Cross

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: Below £10pp
Service charge: N/A
Taste: ***
Service: ***
Ambience: ****
Train stations do get a bit boring these days especially when you are early for a train and just want to find a place to chill. Yes, you can always get a pasty or a sandwich and settle down on one of those cold metallic bench. Not exactly the most exciting thing to do when the weather gets cold.

King's Cross St Pancras, despite being one of the major stations in London, offers surprisingly little for passengers. Even at St Pancras International, where Eurostar train departs, you would be hard-pressed to find a decent bite if you are on a budget.

But if you are feeling more adventurous and don't mind venturing out a bit, you would be able to stretch your pound further. No, I'm not referring to McDonald's or Burger King, not even Chop Chop (you can't miss that, can you?). I'm in fact referring to The Big Chill House along Pentonville Road. Decent food, great prices, free wifi, table counters with lamps and power sockets. Sounds interesting? Read on.

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The Big Chill House having recently introduced its breakfast menu asked me down to have a bite. Standin right next to the St Pancras entrance, The Big Chill House is better known for hosting indie gigs. Other than a band staging area complete with a DJ counter, The Big Chill House boosts a sofa enclave aptly named as the 'Snug Corner', a games room, roof terrace and a drawing room.

Remember those table counters I mentioned earlier? Well, those seats were invariably full every single time I was there - I have never seen so many netbooks congregating in one place before, nope, not even Currys and PC World. There's this odd cheer about The Big Chill House - toilets are labelled 'Brothers' and 'Sisters'. Even the graffiti is cheery - "let the sunshine in you out" says one behind the toilet cubicle's door.

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You would be thrilled to hear all that food at The Big Chill House wouldn't cause you an arm or an leg with all those bells and whistles thrown in. Most items in the menu cost below a fiver. Most half decent breakfast places in London (even non-English ones - see Food Lab) would offer a variety of the Full English Breakfast and I suspect that is easily one of the more popular items on The Big Chill House's breakfast menu. At £7.50, it comes with two eggs (scrambled or poached), toasts, mushrooms, sausage, baked beans, streaky bacon and tomatoes - the whole works. I'm happy to report that the mushrooms was flavourful and juicy to boot, the garnish on the beans was a nice touch too. If you are looking for something a bit more substantial, this is probably it.

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For a quick carbo fix that wouldn't burn a whole in your pocket, go for the homemade rosti (£4.75). Served with a sunny side up with a healthy sprinkle of garnish, it's nothing fancy but would fill you up nicely. I thought it was a tad salty but it might be just me.

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Fans of french toasts would be glad to know that its on The Big Chill House's menu too. For £3.75, you get two warm farmhouse bread dipped in egg, vanilla and cinnamon mix, all dusted with a fine layer of sugar icing. There's also a choice of two toppings. When asked what are the most popular toppings, the staff volunteered banana slices and maple syrup so I went for those. He was right, the ripe banana slices, which were already rather sweet on their own, complemented the rather mild tasting toasts quite well. But maple syrup on french toast is always a winner, isn't it?

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Belgian waffle (£3.75) came highly recommended by the staff. "Really good for those with a sweet tooth," they said. Nicely presented in the centre of the plate with a dullop of fresh cream in the middle and compote of summer berries on the side, it did cheer me up quite a bit. But I suspect that the waffle has been left on the kitchen counter awhile as it was lukewarm when served. I was considering whether to request having it popped into the microwave for a minute or two but decided that it wouldn't do the compote justice. What I would give for some melted chocolate on top but for £3.75, I shouldn't really quibble, should I?

I hate to repeat myself but travellers waiting for the trains at King's Cross or St Pancras International would find a decent breakfast hangout at The Big Chill House. It's just a short stroll away and wouldn't take you more than three minutes to be honest. For a quick bite, they have cereals (£2.50), thick toasts (two for £1.50) and baps with a filling of your choice (£2.50 each). Seriously, anything is better than the overpriced breakfasts at the train stations.


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