Konstam sadly closed on 2nd August 2010. The notes that follow are of historical interest only.
Konstam at the King Albert pub in Kings Cross opened in April 2006. It takes the idea of using locally sourced ingredients to the extent of aiming just for produce grown within Greater London (it manages to get around 80% of its ingredients in the winter, rising to around 95% in the summer). I was curious to see whether pigeon was on the menu, and indeed it was, but this was sourced from Amersham rather than Trafalgar Square. The lunch menu costs £18.75 for three courses. On the a la carte, starters are £6 - £8.50, main courses £12.75 - £17.75 and desserts £6.50 - £7.50, with vegetables £3.25 extra, and bread (from the Flour Station) charged extra at £2.75. Chef Oliver Rowe used to cook at Moro after having worked in Europe.
The short wine list starts at £18 but most bins are in the £25 - £50 range; the list is mainly French, with a few other choices. It features selections such as Leon Beyer Pinot Gris 2006 at £34.50 compared to a retail price of £14, Riesling Grunlack Spatlese Schloss Johannisberg 2007 at £48 for a wine that costs around £24 retail, and the Languedoc wine Minervois Cuvée Selection, Domaine de Rouviole, 2004 at £28 compared to a shop price of about £13. It does manage one English wine, the pleasant Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, West Sussex, England, 2003 at £40 for a wine that will set you back around £22 if you buy it retail.
The restaurant is in a converted pub in an unprepossessing part of Kings Cross opposite a massage parlour. The dining room had some unusual décor: blue painted floor and chairs with rather odd lampshades that look a little like cobwebs, but on a sunny day like today it was pleasant enough; the tables themselves are what an estate agent would describe as cosy.
A celeriac soup with toasted hazelnuts, chives and sour cream had reasonable celeriac flavour, and the hazelnuts added a texture contrast, though the soup seemed slightly sweet to me, which was a little off-putting (11/20). A simple dish of steam mussels with shallots, cream and beer (from Battersea), flavoured with bacon, was more successful (12/20).
The best dish was roast pork belly from Amersham, the pork moist but not too fatty, the crackling excellent, served with pumpkins and an apple and elderberry sauce (14/20). Mushroom and leek pierogi (Polish dumplings) with almonds, sour cream and horseradish was decent enough, though for me was light on seasoning: more horseradish would have helped (11/20).
For dessert a Bakewell tart featured good pastry, and was served with a sloe gin ice cream that (fortunately as far as I was concerned) had subdued gin taste, made from berries they infuse themselves with gin (13/20). Coffee had reasonable taste (13/20).
The bill for two people, admittedly just with a single glass of wine, was just £22 a head plus service. Service was excellent, our waiter knowing all about the provenance of the produce, and seemed to have a real passion for local produce goals of the restaurant.