Just up the escalator from the huddle of Harry Potter fans admiring Platform 9¾, King's Cross’s long disused parcels office has been magically transformed into one of Fuller’s most impressive contemporary pubs.
The long derelict but Grade I-listed King's Cross parcels office, wedged between the station’s main line and suburban platforms, has been reincarnated as the Parcel Yard pub and restaurant – part of a thoroughgoing redevelopment of the station that almost challenges neighbour St Pancras in scale. The pub is accessed at first floor level from the spectacular new western concourse with its vast curved geometric roof. A generously proportioned interior also takes in a second floor above, both wrapped around a central well that’s been turned into an attractive atrium-style covered courtyard. There are numerous different spaces – a lounge with armchairs and a bricked-in fireplace, a sparkling dining area overlooking the main line platforms, vertical drinking by the bar, luxurious sofas upstairs – and decor that chimes pleasingly with the setting. Signing is in railway-style lettering, nostalgic posters are displayed and additional seating in corridors is provided by platform benches painted in LNER green. Overall it’s a very impressive and successful conversion of a previously neglected heritage asset.
The typical station bar is a functional establishment, often with the sole virtue of convenience for thirsty travellers with a few minutes to spare. The Parcel Yard is one of a number of recently opened venues that have turned that thinking on its head, instead aspiring to become attractive places in their own right. While the customer grabbing a pint between connections is still catered for with quick service and live departure screens, many of the customers are happy to install themselves for the evening, with a keen following among local office workers and residents, both male and female. The atmosphere is demotic but civilised, staff are accommodating and, while the food is a big attraction, the Parcel Yard happily encompasses the casual drinkers too.
Food is much more serious than you’d expect – upmarket British pub grub with a decidedly retro feel. It must be quite some years before a station caterer has kicked off its menu with 1950s staple Brown Windsor Soup (£5.50). Other starter and snack options include potted shrimp and toast (£7.25), cauliflower and blue cheese fritters (£6.75) and scotch duck egg with crispy port crackling and apple sauce (£6.50). Some of the main course items also wouldn’t look out of place on a 1950s menu – the British veal chop for example, though it comes with baby gem and anchovy dressing (£22.50). Burgers (£10.95), steaks (rare breed rib eye £16.95), sausage and mash (£9.50), pies and fish and chips (battered with London Pride £11.50) are all present and correct, and vegetarian options are more imaginative than usual – roast artichoke tart (£9.50) or goat curd and heritage tomato salad (£10.95). Desserts include Victoria sponge and lemon curd tart. Artisanal bread is another plus point, and the venue opens early enough for traditional breakfasts.
When it opened the Parcel Yard claimed the widest range of Fuller’s beers in London, with up to 12 cask lines of which you’re likely to find at least 10 in use. All the regular Fuller’s cask beers – Chiswick, Discovery, ESB, HSB, London Pride and Seafarers – should be on offer alongside seasonals and guest beers from other brewers like Adnams, Ossett or Thwaites. Manager Nick Cameron is one of the brewery’s master cellarmen so beer quality is reliably good. London Porter and Honeydew are on keg with Meantime London Lager, Leffe Blond and Czech Kozel widening the choices; a handful of interesting bottles include 1845, Bengal Lancer, Vintage Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale. A 50-strong wine list has plenty of user friendly varietals, including 18 by the glass (from £3.90), but ascends to serious stuff like Louis Jadot vintage burgundy (£53) and grand cru St Emilion (Château Le Dôme, £120). A reasonable choice of single malts and other specialist whiskies rounds out an impressive offer.
The Last Word
A welcome addition to this continually improving part of central London, the Parcel Yard might make delayed trains a welcome prospect, and is certainly worth planning more time into your journey for.