With a relaunched restaurant and a new exec chef, D&D’s King’s Cross institution offers an irresistible taste of Germany.
I usually avoid the gym in the evenings, favouring my sofa over physical exertion, but I make an exception for German Gymnasium. Originally built as the first purpose- built gymnasium in England, it was designed by the German architect Edward Gruning. In 2013, the building was purchased by the D&D London restaurant group, who transformed it into a restaurant and bar, preserving many of its original features, including the vaulted ceilings, arches, and wrought-iron staircases. Downstairs is a buzzy café, while the restaurant and bar are on the mezzanine floor. Comfy grey leather banquette seating, low lighting and discreetly placed tables all contribute to a more than pleasing ambience.
The restaurant recently relaunched, offering a brand- new menu. Designed by new and incredibly talented chef, Alexander Thiel (previously of Barrafina and Beaufort), it is dedicated to and inspired by the natural parks of Germany. There is also a completely new cocktail menu, so we order a couple to sip on while choosing our food. We rate the Schwarzwald Negroni, mixed with Monkey 47’s Dry Schwarzwald Gin, which is distilled in the Black Forest and a favourite of head bartender, Jerome Orive.
The meal begins with juicy steak tartare, served with a wild garlic and dill sauce, washed down with a delightful glass of Becker Petit Rosé, a lively, fruity wine from Pfalz. When the mains arrive, our veal schnitzel is so huge that it barely fits on the table. It comes served with a warm potato salad and sharp pickled cucumber, and is a winner. But the pork medallions are the star of the show. Oh-so-tender and wrapped in bacon, they are served in a velvety, creamy mushroom sauce and come with a side of braised red cabbage.
We also sample spätzle – an egg-noodle pasta with a chewy, dumpling-like texture, it is an excellent accompaniment for both mains. We wash this all down with a full bodied glass of Spatburgunder red from the Rheinhessen region.There is no such thing as a small sweet treat here, so we go in all guns blazing. The quark and apricot strudel is like nothing we have tasted before, though similar in texture to a baked cheesecake covered in flaky pastry; the apricots cut through the more savoury quark in a most agreeable way.
We are replete – indeed, if we are to stagger back down the stairs and home, help with digestion is required, and a fresh mint tea duly arrives in a satisfyingly heavy silver teapot. While we polish it off, we make plans to return when the weather improves, to make ourselves at home on the outside terrace, and sample some of the dishes we couldn’t fit in this time.
1 King’s Boulevard, N1C (020 7287 8000; germangymnasium.com)