After five days of a love-hate relationship with London, I am glad that the last place we visited before heading to the airport was this restaurant, on Euston Road, directly across the street from King's Cross/St. Pancras. It was a recommendation from our guidebook, and I am glad we listened to it this time.
We wanted lunch, and so we went in. I loved the decor, and the overall interior arrangement of this place. It feels like it's a renovated industrial room of some sort, complete with bare concrete, but at the same time, made homely with wall plants and vines.
I ordered the sausage and mash, which came out wonderful. My companion on the other hand had the duck confit, which was also a good choice. The staff was more than willing to provide alterations, as spinach was supposed to come with the duck, and spinach is a big no no for us.
The one thing they could improve is perhaps repeating the orders one last time before they go away from the table, as I ordered a side dish yet it didn't arrive at all. Never mind, I just stole some from my companion's plate and that made my day.
Overall, it was a good dining experience. They make good coffee. They have a great and friendly vibe. I'd go here again if I were in town.
I've been to Karpo a handful of times since it opened.
Generally, it's been ok at lunch / dinner, but I do like the vibe and food around breakfast - eggs benedict on english muffins with piped hollandaise sauce is a winner, as are the various concoctions of juices.
Great tip for the winter is to sit on the second table on the right - a sharing table that's also warmed!
Free wifi is also great.
For business users - they provide VAT receipts without asking. Seriously, never understood why some places do NOT do this?
I hate it when people use the term 'literally' all wrong.
"I literally laughed my head off".
Oh did you now? Well what's that stupid looking thing teetering on top of your neck then?
"He played so well he was literally on fire."
On fire was he? My god. Who put it out? Is he in hospital?
Well here we go. Here's a use of the word that literally means what it means.
Karpo is quite literally serving the best value food I have had the pleasure of eating in London.
I've had some wonderful bowls of Vietnamese soup for £3.50. I had a simply heavenly dish at Hedone which wasn't cheap but I would have paid three times the price for. I've enjoyed loads of great food in London that represented great quality and great value.
But the two course set menu they have started serving at Karpo, for £12, is literally the best value I can remember.
So good I have been back for lunch three times in the last three days.
I have now tasted everything on offer, starters and main, through my choices and through dipping in on my eating companions' plates. And all of it is fantastic.
The dishes are inventive but comforting. A scotch egg starter comes on a bed of delicious celeriac and mustard seed. Egg inside perfectly unset. Sausage meat beautifully seasoned and crispy on the outside.
The mackerel comes with burnished skin but ever so moist flesh. That's the way to do it.
The mushroom soup is not only creamily divine but comes with a slab of toasted sourdough and generous topping of quality melted cheese. The basil oil accompanies perfectly.
These starters are perfectly proportioned. I mentioned in an earlier review that the portions were lovely but tiny and that's why the prices were low. Now they seem to have made the portions much healthier (as in larger. Is that healthier? It is in my book) but the prices have gone lower. How does that work?
Mains just get better. Venison with berries and a gentle chocolate sauce underneath was perfectly cooked and felt very Finnish. Lovely. And accompanied by a light and fluffy cheese croquette. Boom.
The salmon fishcake is a light ball of divineness, and the leek and mussels in foam sauce really simple and tasty.
The cottage pie comes with a huge beef bone protruding from the middle full of marrow, surrounded by expertly piped potato. And the inside is a rich sauce with chunks of short rib. No mince here.
The pork belly I had today was melt in the mouth and came with separate crunchy crackling and good apple sauce.
I sound like I work there or I'm best mates with the management. I'm not, honest. I'm just astounded that they are knocking out such high quality food for so little money.
There is no pressure to drink expensive beers or wines. In fact they are only too happy to keep the bottled, chilled tap water coming. The service is charming.
We have also ordered a side of potatoes a couple of times and what comes are new potatoes, skins on, deep fried and totally unctuous. Evil in fact. A big old bowl. £3. Not needed but ordered out of greed anyway.
As I've stated in earlier reviews, there are drawbacks to Karpo. The shitty location (just across the road from Kings Cross station slap bang on the Euston Rd), the hotel residents that wander through constantly to get to their rooms. But frankly, these are ridiculously picky things to talk about when they have got it together to serve such wonderful food at such low prices.
Blimey, I went to Sheekey's the other day and had a starter that was nearly twice the price of my whole meal at Karpo. It was delicious, granted. But this is what we're dealing with here. Quite LITERALLY the best value fine food in London.
My advice would be get in while you can. I've walked in every day and today five of us easily got a table. I can't believe that will be the case for too long.
MUST get the rib for 2!
A 'tad' bit overpriced for what they deliver.
Maybe it's me having lived in the United States for far too long, but when I order a main course for my dinner, I expect a little more than what I got at Karpo. The quality and creativity were there, true, but at what price? I am not expecting oodles of food; I am not expecting large portions; but I am also not expecting to still be hungry after the main course is through. My main course was best described as 'cute' when I took the first look at it because of how tiny it looked on the oversized plate. The price of it was not so cute, however.
You'd think that for the exorbitant prices they charge, and the mediocre amounts of food they serve, they would compensate with an outstanding service. You'd be wrong. Service is, at best, a-okey.
Needless to say, this was not a satisfactory experience -- on any level. The only saving grace was the company of friends I was with. But then, again, Karpo is not responsible for that, so I cannot put this as their credit.
As a guest at the Megaro Hotel nearby, I spent some time at Karpo during my stay, Karpo being a separate name and address but being also the restaurant/bar for the hotel, with a direct entrance from the inside of the hotel. I first enjoyed an English breakfast, then a risotto for lunch, then a few drinks at night, then a coffee and juice break with wifi, before leaving London.
All in all, the only thing that disappointed me slightly was the risotto, which I found quite bland and didn't really enjoy totally. But all the rest was perfect: coffee, smoothie, English breakfast and drinks, in a very nice setting and with a very professionnal service. All the waiters and waitresses were nice and I enjoyed being able to work on my computer without being bothered! So, here you go, Karpo, 4 stars!
Lovely food and very friendly staff -- will come again.
Usually, I turn my nose up at "hotel restaurants," as my experience leads me to summarize them as overpriced steakhouses (and the like), cartoonish cafes, or boring and lacking character.
However, I must say in my two dining experiences at Karpo....I found none of the above to be true, and in fact quite the opposite.
First of all, its not REALLY a hotel restaurant. Yes it has an entrance from the Megaro Hotel and provides their in-room dining, but it really seems much more of a "stand-alone."
Room Service: A pleasant gentlemen delivered me a spread including: hot tea, lam shank with asparagus and pea puree, mac 'n cheese and a vegetable medley. I didn't have any expectations much, just needed a warm meal on a Friday evening after a particularly exhausting week. And...there it was. It arrived within 20 minutes, fresh, hot and satisfying. I actually remarked to myself that the lamb was some of the best I've had. Certainly not typical "room service" fare.
I enjoyed it so much, I headed down for brunch the following morning before tackling all that is London. I perched myself at the bar, enjoyed a double espresso followed by an Americano (told you the week was long!) and then indulged in the eggs benedict. Its not usually my type of dish, but of the few brunch options this seemed to be the best bet for some protein to sustain me through the day. It arrived within 10 minutes, and was delicious.
Also, each interaction with the staff was delightful. Including when one of their "regulars" sat beside me and was blitzed out drunk at noon. Not an issue for me, but after being quizzed on the bio of the British Prime Minister (before coffee!) and then told to take a (expletive) taxi back to the States if I wasn't going to learn the ins and outs of the British Parliament...the staff jumped into high gear, distracting the...errr...passionate gentlemen so that I could enjoy my breakfast. A nice gesture, and I was appreciative. Otherwise the service was also good...all smiles and quite warm and friendly, while staying efficient.
Cost of both meals (on my hotel bill): 43 GBP.
The colors are bright and I am glad I popped into Karpo...worth a try, and conveniently located near Kings Cross, and near many hotels/hostels. Worth the splurge or even just for a pop in for a coffee and croissant to start your day. Skip the chains!
I went here after I was kicked out of the British Library when they closed for the day. Karpo hadn't started serving dinner yet, so I had a cheese plate while I waited and then ordered a small dinner. I enjoyed my experience; it's nice and the food is expensive but delicious.
If I had written this review when they first opened, when we were going there once a week on average, I would have given the, 4 stars.
Cons: The food.
Now that they have removed southern fried quail, creamed spinach and mac 'n cheese from the menu, on the basis that these are no longer seasonal items, what remains are only mediocre choices. We stopped making a special trip to visit, although I would still eat there if I were at Kings Cross and wanted something outside the station. (Aside from Ethiopian, for which there are a couple of great venues nearby.)
Pros are nice (if not attentive or fast) service and decent decor, especially taking the neighbourhood into consideration.
Like most people, I stayed at the Megaro and came here for a late night bite figuring it would be mediocre fare at best. Wow, was I wrong! I had the pork dish and I can honestly say its the best I've ever had. Delicious with kale and anchovies. I came back again for breakfast in the morning and was suitably impressed again. Highly recommended if you need a higher class meal in this area. Also handy for travelers to St Pancras.
Karpo on its second night was sadly empty - very strange since they served 100 covers on opening night. It's a very interestingly designed space, with some tables carved from gigantic slices of wood, to heated concrete benches and a 'living wall' of plants, including lemon thyme, parsley and what we decided was probably marjoram. The downstairs bar was cool, but cosy - and we had a quick cup of mint tea (it was a very cold night) before dinner upstairs. We could see it all being cooked in the open kitchen, and the chef, Daniel Taylor, came over for a quick chat about the place... everything is made in house and they're open for breakfast at 7 right through to dinner. We both ordered shrimp and grits - a southern American version of polenta - and it was delicious, with mushrooms and bacon and a creamy sauce...full of flavour. Some buttered cabbage on the side went with it beautifully. For dessert I had a very rich chocolate mousse cake, although without the accompanying boozy prunes and cream - I prefer my chocolate neat and unadulterated. My friend had a selection of 3 home made icecreams, which were incredibly good value at £3 for the lot. This place is great - and needs lots of custom - I'd definitely recommend a visit sooner, rather than later. I must try the breakfast pancakes - chocolate chip and banana, anyone?
If one were crazy enough to open a restaurant in London then it's fair to say that King's Cross wouldn't be the obvious place for i unless you were intent on proving your craziness to all and sundry. Despite the money being pumped into the area, it's going to be a while before anybody in their right mind heads there for anything other than the train station. That being said, if you are going to open a new resto, it's important to stand out from the crowd. And one way to stand out, when you're surrounded by a million and one single item places around serving only burgers or only fried chicken or only subs or only sarnies, is to make sure you serve absolutely eeeeverything After some excellent lemon soused pickled veg and moreish (if teetotal) bourbon pecan nuts we greedily attacked the menu. There's a lot I like the look of, but very little that readily goes together as a meal. From an overly diverse selection of hot and cold starters we travelled from Britain to Finland via the Deep South. With the exception of an over plasticised Lobster Mac 'n' cheese, the other plates worked well, if not necessarily together. Southern Fried Quail was finger lickin' excellent, the oft dry bird protected and gamey flavours enhanced by a spicy, crispy crumb. Scandinavian style eel on a dark nutty rye was a silkily simple morsel perfectly executed as was a firm and rich British classic of brawn on toast. I'd tried to match the Southern theme with a main of 'Shrimp and Grits'. Pleasant enough, it just wasn't as I'd expected. Traditionally served as a slightly looser mixture, the corn grits were here more like a firm toasted polenta cake, topped with four or five big plump shrimps and doused in a rich salty gravy. Not actively unpleasant, but neither was it entirely satisfying. The polenta came hotter than the sun, an unwelcome plating error. Other mains veered from Asian influenced fish, via Moroccan chicken through to North European potato pancakes. As I say, none of us had a bad meal, there just wasn't a central concept to hang it off. Like the food, there's definitely a deal of thought gone into the design of the place, though it tries to be as all encompassing as the menu. The interior designer must have had an awfully challenging time. You can imagine the conversation over the mood boards. Ok, I'm not sure on the menu concept, it looks like you're trying to offer a little bit of everything, which is great, so we could take the design from any number of these five different styles, which do you prefer?. All of them Let's have all of them. At the same time There's Lower East Side concrete chic into Scandi furniture and an eco/sustainable herb wall, a British member's bar downstairs next door to a Hard Rock styled section with plectrum tables and wall mounted guitars and that's without mentioning the black, red and gold blinged bathroom suitable for an oligarch. Enough already, just don't come here with a headache Quirks also exist at the similarly schizophrenic Bob Bob Ricard, but there the design pulls it together perfectly and while the menu moves around, there's plenty you can make a great meal from. Neither Karpo's menu or decor really seem to know what they're trying to achieve currently, and to be honest neither do we, which is a shame, as there's definitely talent in the open plan galley kitchen at the back, focused too widely on an extensive range of disparate dishes. It's a pleasant enough meal, made good by excellent company, but there isn't anything else that'll drag me back here and I couldn't begin to describe it well enough to send anyone else.
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