Over the years, pretty restaurants have become synonymous with London. Some hit the metaphorical nail on the head with interiors and equally gorgeous plates, others, well, not so much. I’m not here to name names (I bet you wish I was) but my trip to Magenta in The Megaro Hotel was to suss out if it was all about the interiors or the food. As always, my fingers were crossed for both. There was also the promise of a visit to the underground bar, Hokus Pokus, that bills itself as an ‘alchemy lab’. Intrigued? If the answer’s yes do yourself a solid and read this review until the bitter end - cause you're in for some incredible intel.
Not gonna lie. I had to Google ‘magenta’. I thought it had some otherworldly meaning when in reality it means exactly what I thought it did: ‘pinkish-purplish-red’. When you visit you’ll see why (there are pinkish-purplish-red accents everywhere, from the chairs to the hundreds of butterflies that hang overhead on exposed pipework). Opening its doors in May 2021, Magenta has livened up Euston Road with Northern Italian food that comes with a modern British twist and if you had a good arm, it’s easily a stone’s throw away from the doors of King’s Cross Station. This is a major plus if you’re planning on visiting their basement bar after dinner. There’s no need to shell out for a cab home when you can practically hear the tube while you hoover your dinner.
Interestingly, when we visited, the restaurant was running a Celebration of Magenta (£94) menu that shines a light on all of their best sellers since opening. We went for the non-vegan option with a wine pairing. We kick-started things with the chef’s selection of starters that were dainty portions big on flavour. The charcoal sourdough bread was so impressive we disregarded the inevitable carb bloat and continued to dip its fluffy insides into a silky pool of olive oil well into our third course. Another interesting starter was the beetroot macaroons. The pink sugary shell gave way to a tart and gooey centre as we masticated our way through the crisp exterior.
Our anti pasti dish was a symphony of flavours coming in the form of Orkney scallops carpaccio. The discs of fish were topped with three tiny segments of blood orange and fennel, bringing a zesty and light intro to our palates before we tucked into our primo course, which was possibly the winning plate of the night. Five parcels of perfectly cooked agnolotti were protecting meaty pockets of braised beef shin and cheek. I wish ‘melt in the mouth’ had the ability to do this dish justice. Plonked on a swirl of smoked crème fraiche, a wonderful nutty texture was brought into the fold thanks to a scattering of Piedmont hazelnuts. If the menu was four courses of this, I’d be back imminently.
Secondi, there were two options: the roasted halibut (an excellent choice of fish) and the chargrilled rib-eye. I went for the steak and although it could have been still mooing - it was very pink, there’s no denying the quality. A pink pillow of meat was served with salt baked turnip and a bright green cime di rapa purée. It was the heaviest dish of the night which led us on to a wonderfully light dessert: Sicilian pistachio soufflé. Truth be told, the pastry was spilling out of the ramekin like I was my jeans (a positive for the soufflé at least). The light and piping hot roof of the pastry was topped with a single scoop of dark chocolate ice cream at the table that added a welcomed contrast between temperatures.
After about 15 minutes of staring at each other while mouthing ‘I’m so full’, we made our way downstairs to the hotel’s basement bar. After 8.5 years of working in this job, it takes a lot for something to blow my mind, but this bar. It’s a nod to the steampunk era with a futuristic twist. Think Victorian nods and trippy light installations that wouldn’t look out of place on a movie set. The idea behind the bar comes from a man called Dr James Morison who believed there was a cure for all ailments based on botanical compounds. From the menu of ‘prescriptions’ we ordered the strawberry-infused vodka sour potion (£16). Garnished with freeze-dried strawberries, the mixture itself contained orange and citrus elixirs. Doing what it said on the tin, the drink was a sour mix to the backbone. Our favourite drink had to be the milkshake potion that’s currently not on the menu. Swirled together with white chocolate liqueur, cold extracted coffee and sweet sherry liqueur, it was like a boozy bedtime drink for adults. We ended with a classic old fashioned (£16) which came in duty heavy glassware, a twirled orange peel and a block of ice that could have sunk the Titanic.
The DesignMyNight Digest
I have so much to say about Magenta and Hokus Pokus. The four-course meal is excellent value for money, especially when you pop on the wine pairings. The service was incredible too - a special shout out to Greg who sat with us and explained the idea behind Hokus Pokus - and I can confirm there’s substance behind the dashing good looks of both parties. There’s no doubt about the interiors being picture perfect (the bar is honestly next level) but they’re not a detractor from the food and drinks that deservedly take just as much pride of place. Waddling home with my stomach that resembled a perfectly baked souffle, I can confirm I'll be recommeding this new gem as a King's Cross must.
💰 The damage: £188 for a four-course meal for two people paired with wines.
📍 The location: 23 Euston Rd, London NW1 2SD.
👌 Perfect for: A boozy meal along the Northern Line.
⭐ Need to know: Request a table with views of the Clock Tower and don’t leave without visiting Hokus Pokus.
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