Editor's note: this restaurant closed on August 23rd 2017
Grain Store (it is set in Granary Square) is a venture from Bruno Loubet which opened in May 2013. It is a departure from his previous French brasserie style, being an informal restaurant with an emphasis on vegetables. It is not purely vegetarian, the odd dish having meat, but the bulk of the menu is made up of vegetarian dishes. The dining room seats up to 130 at one time, with a bar along one side and a few booths. The restaurant is next to the St Martin’s College of Art and Design, at ground level looking out to the synchronised fountains of Granary Square. Perhaps appropriately given the location, one of the other diners when I visited was artist Grayson Perry.
The wine list started at £21 and had choices like Saladini Pilastri Falerio dei Colli 2011 at £21 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £7, Riesling Rose Vineyard 2009 at £53 for a wine that retails at £19, and Boulard Champagne Rachais 2006 at £99 for a champagne that will set you back £44 in a shop.
Focaccia (£4) was made from scratch and had a light, pleasant texture (14/20). Falaffel (£6.50) was made from courgettes, broad beans and prawns, and worked well. The unusual filling was quite harmonious, and the broad beans and raita on the side ensured that the overall effect was not too dry (14/20). Less successful was ravioli of butternut squash (£7), with sage and mustard apricots and pumpkin seed oil (11/20). Here the squash was too sweet and needed something other than oil to complement it, though the texture of the pasta decent enough. A salad (£6) of endive, Roquefort, green bean and pear came with a red pepper jelly and toasted hazelnuts. The endive was of good quality and the pear balanced the Roquefort nicely, though the smoked pepper jelly did not add much (13/20).
A main course of “chilli con veggies” (£10) was served with brown rice. This is a difficult dish to make exciting, but the chilli was nicely spiced and the rice carefully cooked (13/20). Corn and quinoa tamale (£15) with salsa and sticky pork belly was an unusual dish, the rich pork belly offset by the corn and the grain texture of the quinoa, though some acidity would have been useful (13/20).
Light waffle (£6) with fruit compote and vanilla sabayon was pleasant, the waffle working well with the acidity of the red fruit, the sabayon tasting of vanilla (13/20). Strawberry and balsamic jam with horseradish ice cream and nasturtium leaves suffered from the horseradish flavour being too dominant (12/20).
The bill came to £38 a head, with just tap water and fruit juice to drink and no coffee. With a decent wine and coffee, the bill would come to around £60 a head. Service was good, and they obviously know their market, because the place was very busy even on a lunch just weeks after opening, with no special lunch incentives offered. A five course tasting menu is available for dinner at £35 a head. Overall I quite liked Grain Store. It is good to see a restaurant focusing on vegetables for a change, and the dishes were quite interesting and generally well made.