The Brill Restaurant and Cellar Bar, King's Cross
6-8 Caledonian Road
by Salmon de Beauvoir
On my left there’s the psychotically painted façade of Tony’s Hemp Corner. On my right, the boarded-up windows and doors of The Flying Scotsman: strip-pub. This is the unlikely location of The Brill, a sophisticated-looking British eatery on Cally road, close to King’s Cross.
Everything’s beige and demure – and clean, which is ultimately why I go in (they also boast a dedicated breakfast/brunch menu). As the nervously smiling eastern European waitress shows me to a table (quelle elegance!), I approvingly note the artwork: watercolours of fish on plates. It’s not worth writing home about in any way, but it nicely counteracts the rather stiff atmosphere. Everywhere, couples sit quietly and obediently and wait for their food, which, let me tell you, is quite a wait. My companion comments that this bodes well, that a full English should take time to prepare.
Just as I start contemplating the disparity between this place’s deçor and its low prices (£4.50 for salmon and scrambled, £5.50 for full English) the food arrives. Aha! The Brill have aped the formula of the nearby St Pancras Champagne Bar: tiny bits of chopped-up smoked salmon nearly disappearing in a nightmare of overcooked scrambled eggs. Nothing stays together on my plate and the low price is suddenly explained. My companion's full English is “reasonable” – for the price, and for what you ordinarily get in London, but I feel like I was led to believe there’d be at least ‘Taste the Difference’-standard sausages, or slices of dense, “it’s-my-Polish-gran’s-recipe” bread. The absence of the advertised fried bread only makes matters worse. I wish I could tell you that their chrome espresso machine delivers something to savour, but alas, the cappuccino is some kind of mini Lait Russe.
It seems as if the owners spent all their money on the bohemian yellowy glass jars containing candles so could only afford to offer an uninteresting breakfast. I feel quite let down. From the waitress’ smile, the watermarked menu paper and the splendid name, I’d simply expected more. The old proverb has been proved right yet again; don’t judge a brekkie joint by the decorative mini trees flanking its entrance.
Oh, and they didn’t have any pastries... Scandal.