Kings Place is one of the those gems, despite being a stone’s throw from the St Pancras Eurostar terminal, which has not yet fully penetrated London’s consciousness. Peter Millican, a visionary property developer, astutely signed the deal for the purchase of the site at the junction of York Way and Goods Way in the same week as the contract was agreed for the Eurostar terminal. Correctly he foresaw the future of the area, which is now becoming one of the most interesting areas of London. Apart from his commercial perspicacity, he is also a music buff, and has deliberately made the building a combination of office space (the Guardian and Observer among others), concert halls and gallery space. The result of this is that the building is alive day and night.
The focus is on the tall open plan interior. On entering you may be drawn down airy central escalators to the two concert halls and bar on the lower floors, encouraged to sit around comfortably with snacks from the cafe on the ground floor, or enter the Rotunda restaurant at the back. There is also seating outside overlooking the canal. There is an easy flow of activity among the spaces, and Millican is still a driving force as Director, involved in the concert programming, and providing meat from his Northumberland farm for the restaurant, aged on the premises.
A concert by Manu Delago and friends was the draw for a pre-show menu deal at the Rotunda restaurant a couple of weeks ago. I had been mesmerised by the sound of Delago’s hang drum playing the downstairs bar area when attending another event at Kings Place before Christmas. An ingenious piece of marketing.
The bubbly restaurant manager, Liz Reece, welcomed us with the pre concert offering. This was priced at £20 for two courses or £24.95 for three – good value for really well-cooked food. All the meat was predictably delicious and so was my sea bass set on an earthy haricot bean, onion and tomato stew. A champagne rhubarb dessert provided a zingy finish. My concert-going companion, Mike Green, aka Mr Tapwater, was impressed by his chocolate terrine and the speed at which a large jug of tap water was brought at the start of the meal.
All these details are indicative of a wider commitment to the project of the building as a whole. Liz Reece’s enthusiasm for her job as restaurant manager reflects the inspiration via John Nugent’s company Green and Fortune which runs all the catering in the building right to the top of the organisation. Peter Millican is a business man, but this feels like an enterprise where the motivation is more than just making money. The diverse mix of activities, reflected by the eclectic audience riveted by Manu Delago and The Living Room on a January Monday, has created a new kind of model of how to combine commerce and the arts.
Rotunda Bar & Restaurant
90 York Way
London N1 9AG
Tel: 020 7014 2840