CalamariDespite St Pancras International being a game-changer when it comes to station cuisine, it still takes some commitment to visit a main terminus for a restaurant rather than a train out of town. Still, that’s what we decide to do. Telly chef Gino D’Acampo’s has a prime position in the pleasing mezzanine area of Euston station (alongside Leon and Prime Burger).
Turquoise booths and high stools make it feel a cross between a 1950s beach-style diner and a private members club. There are black and white framed pics on one wall, and the chef’s many cookbooks lined up on shelves separating the different areas out. You can also eat on the terrace overlooking the concourse – but you won’t want to: it’s far nicer inside.
The menu is naturally versatile, whether you have half an hour or a whole evening. Served on a sturdy earthenware plate, an antipasti of calamari fritti are good: tender flesh, a light batter and a few tempura courgettes and red peppers thrown. A powerful aioli too, and a squidge of lemon for some necessary acidity.
BruschettaMeaning ‘to roast over coals’, this dish originated as far back as ancient Rome, when olive growers bringing their crops to the local press would toast slices of bread to sample their fresh-pressed oil. “This is Italian food as it should be; no compromises,” enthuses Gino in the blurb. “I’m using the best, well sourced, seasonal ingredients to make sure that every dish brings you, the real taste of Italy.”
Not sure whether this word that may be tricky for Brits to pronounce needs its own spelling guidelines in the menu – “brus-ketta” – but what arrives is convincing. Two small scoops of light toasted ciabatta are piled with diced yellow, red and orange tomato – which we’re assuming must be San Marzano and other heritage varieties – and a leaf or two of basil. There’s a real meaty garlic kick to the plate. Lip-smacking.
Linguine with scallopsOnce ensconced here, you’d never know that you’re not in a West End dining room – that is, apart from the loud speaker announcements. And the fact that travellers trundle in dragging suitcases on wheels. And the small detail that you have to traipse downstairs and take a left towards Platform One for the toilets. But these are all minor irritations.
This pasta classic stems from the north of the country on the Adriatic coast. It’s an easy assemble – just parsley, pesto and lemon – its subtlety the fragrant essence of Italian cooking, although I’d have liked the scallops to be caramelized rather than soft. Still, for the price (£14.95) it’s a generous helping.
Veal meatballsPassionate chefs line the open kitchen – and you can watch the drama unfold as they cook. The trick with meatballs is to get them meltingly tender without drying out. These herby veal numbers definitely deliver, with a rich, velvety sauce, parmesan cheese and pine nuts.
Toasted ciabatta is on hand to mop up excess juice. We also love the courgette fries, skinny, crispy, lighter-than-chips, and another simple side of tomatoes in balsamic.
Overall, it’s a more-than-decent neighbourhood restaurant – and the most fun you can have in Euston station. Fact.
Gino D’Acampo, Euston Station NW1. More info here.