A former coal store dating back to the 1800s, Coal Drops Yard is the latest section of King’s Cross to undergo a gleaming transformation. Part of the area’s £3bn redevelopment project – previous stages saw the introduction of Granary Square (hello, Dishoom) and the new campus for Central Saint Martins – the retail district mixes the coolest established brands (think Paul Smith, Cos and Aesop) with independent concept stores (like Wolf & Badger and The Sports Edit).
Encompassing 100,000sq ft of public space, the area is so vast it’s even been given its own postcode: NC1. Interiors king Tom Dixon has upped sticks from Ladbrook Grove, the team behind Barrafina and Quo Vadis has launched not one but three new eateries, plus 50 restaurants, stores and cafes are in the midst of settling into their new archways. Special in-store events, workshops, pop-ups and talks will all feature as part of an ongoing programme of activities and events.
The project is the brainchild of Heatherwick Studios – the team behind the 2012 Olympic torch and velodrome; the picture-perfect, if ill-fated Garden Bridge project; and Google’s £1bn new HQ, just around the corner from Coal Drops Yard. A collection of forgotten buildings designed back in the 1850s, this unusual site was built to handle the 8m tonnes of coal delivered to the capital each year. Since that time, the cobbled streets and brick arches have hosted markets, served as film sets and been the stomping ground for many a 90s clubber – for two decades, Bagleys was London’s biggest rave venue.
Now the surviving structures, streets and rich ironwork of the original Victorian brick viaducts have been given a polish, and the yard itself has been crowned with a striking glass roof. Here’s SL’s pick of the best finds this new district has to offer.
Harts Group brings a Michelin-starred taste of Spain to King’s Cross, with its biggest branch of Barrafina to date. This is the fourth site for brothers Sam, James and Eddie Hart. The restaurant has a brand-new tapas menu, 34 covers at the bar, a 20-seat private dining room and a weatherproof outside terrace seating 60, a first for the group. Come spring 2019, the team will launch a fourth space at Coal Drops Yard: Parrillan is set to feature tabletop charcoal grills where guests can grill their own Iberian meats.
Chef Assaf Granit and British designer Tom Dixon have joined forces to create Coal Office, their ‘food and design playground’. Expect contemporary, inventive Middle Eastern cuisine with ingredients and family-style sharing plates largely influenced by Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Jerusalem traditions. Naturally, this is an impeccably designed restaurant – one where the tableware is available to buy. We’re looking forward to summer, when we can take to the terrace which overlooks the yard and Regents Canal.
If you think the food of Mexico is all avocados and refried beans, this taqueria will prove you wrong. Casa Pastor serves tacos with tortillas made from scratch in-house every day, along with fresh salsas, Mexican beers, mezcal and more. A new 80-cover Mexican big sister to Borough’s El Pastor, this is the third ‘Pastor’ restaurant in London and third opening from the Harts Group at Coal Drops Yard. An 80-seat outdoor area, called Plaza Pastor, features a rotisserie and its own bar.
Hicce (pronounced ee-che) is Pip Lacey’s first solo culinary venture following her role as head chef of Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred Murano. The 80-cover restaurant can be found within Wolf & Badger and offers all-day dining from midday onwards. The menu will include dishes created from a wood-fired fuel source – from grilling to steaming and smoking. From homemade rye bread with seasonal cheese, cured meats and pickles; to fish, meat and hot sticks cooked over specialist holm oak charcoal, Pip will use traditional techniques to create dishes inspired by her travels and driven by her commitment to the very best produce.
A wine bar from the team behind Quo Vadis and Barrafina, The Drop is a 55-seat space that focuses on all things drinks. A point of difference from Spanish-inspired Barrafina and Mexican Casa Pastor over the street, The Drop focuses on modern British plates – think exemplary terrines, cep pie, cheeseboards, rarebit and charcuterie – essentially, anything that goes well with a bottle of wine. Oyster fans should make a beeline the outdoor area, where an oyster cart will be a regular fixture.
Vermuteria Cafe & Bar
A characterful little nook right at the centre of Coal Drops Yard, Vermuteria is a distillation of owners Anthony Demetre (chef-owner of widely acclaimed Mayfair restaurant Wild Honey and former chef-owner of Arbutus and Les Deux Salons) and Michael Sodeau’s favourite bars and cafés along the cycling Grand Tour routes of Italy, France and Spain. The food and drink are set to be inspired by these regions – think salads, charcuterie and pastries. Given its name, we’re looking forward to plenty of vermouth-tinged drinks.
A café by day and a bar by night, Spiritland aims to put the love and passion back into music. This is a place to experience music of all genres and eras on one of the world’s best sound systems, from 50s jazz to deep electronica, country rock and classic pop. The café-style menu offers all-day dishes, bar snacks and late-night eating, while the bar contains an ever-evolving selection of beers, wines, cocktails and spirits. Spiritland also sells music on vinyl and CD as well as a world-class selection of headphones, audio players, amplifiers and accessories.
Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse
Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse’ signature chocolate brand, Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse, has opened a permanent store at Coal Drops Yard. Offering single-origin and flavoured ganaches, pralinés “à l’ancienne”, chocolate bars and more, the shop is Le Chocolat’s first opening in London. Le Chocolat’s signature chocolate bonbons presentation table takes centre stage to showcase the impressive selection of ganache and pralines to visitors.
Entrepreneur and beauty industry powerhouse Sharmadean Reid MBE has taken over an arch with her ground-breaking app Beautystack, a beauty network and booking app dedicated to connecting clients with beauty professionals via a visual network. The WAH Nails founder’s tech-beauty venture will set up shop for three months, offering workshops from new generation beauty professionals and a rotating schedule of in-store treatments from the likes of Bam Brows, Keash Braids, Slash Beauty and Pavan Henna. Alongside the services, there will be a Feel Unique edit of beauty products available for purchase, as well as on-site workshops, how-to sessions and industry events.
The self-taught designer brings his iconic work – including the ‘S Chair’ and the ‘Melt’ pendant light – to the Bagley Walk Arches at Coal Drops Yard. Moving from the team’s former home at Portobello Dock, Tom Dixon is now based at the 17,500sq ft Coal Office, where he’s created a new flagship shop, showroom, office and cafe. This gorgeous canalside shop and gallery is also home to an already critically-acclaimed restaurant and a studio where his designers craft their latest pieces.
Wolf & Badger
This 12,000sq ft space features a curated selection of unique and ethical fashion and design labels from the 700-strong roster of Wolf & Badger brand partners. Wolf & Badger brings shoppers a carefully-edited selection of the best independent fashion, accessories, homeware and beauty brands. The three-storey property will also feature concessions including a fashion magazine and bookstore, beauty counter, restaurant, café, bar, stationery store and florist.
British fashion brand Margaret Howell is synonymous with understated style. Its new store at King’s Cross is the label’s third, following stores in Marylebone and Shoreditch. Margaret Howell has always drawn inspiration from army surplus, uniform and workwear, attracted by their functional detail and durability. Her new MHL collection aims to capture the authenticity and character of these items through a considered selection of fabric, finish and detail, giving them a contemporary, youthful spirit.
Independent British spectacles brand Cubitts was born in King’s Cross in October 2013 and has never left. Cubitts’ designs are named after streets in the area, providing a brand identity rich in heritage with strong geographical and architectural ties. The new store offers full eye examinations, made-to-measure and bespoke services, as well as the Coal Drops Yard Collection, inspired by figures from King’s Cross history.
Eminent designer Paul Smith brings a British sense of irreverence to Coal Drops Yard. Paul Smith has a diverse shop portfolio borne out of Paul’s own belief that every shop should be different. Each store is designed by an in-house team of architects to reflect and react to its surroundings. This new shop at King’s Cross is no different, with a series of exciting spaces that respect and contrast with Coal Drops Yard’s listed architecture. Expect a rolling series of workshops and pop-ups to take place each week.
The Sports Edit
The Sports Edit scours the globe to bring together fitness brands and products that blend supreme style, high performance and enduring quality. From fashion-favourites Adidas and P.E Nation, to luxe athleisure wear brand Varley, the team is constantly adding new, innovative sportswear labels to its collection – keep an eye out for eco-friendly sneakers and accessories from Veja and S’well. This is the place for anyone who’s passionate about sport, style and wellness.
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