Hailing from north London, I’ve grown up considering King’s Cross as a bit of a no-go area. If I’m not getting stuck behind helplessly lost tourists I’m being pushed, shoved and trampled on by city workers. But, the recent transformation of the area has kicked up more than just a stir and an opportunity to check out a watering hole that’s been at the heart of Europe’s largest urban regeneration project was too good to turn down.
Being under a five minute walk away from the station is without doubt a huge plus point for the The Star of Kings. It means the venue is perfect for your first drink on a weekend visit to London as well as the “I’m going to catch the last train home because my arm has been well and truly twisted” after work beverage. There’s a modest beer garden and its proximity to Regent’s Canal will make it a perfect stop off on a canal crawl once the days get a little warmer.
It’s not a huge pub but it certainly doesn’t feel small. Dedicated areas for serious standing and seated drinkers are accompanied by a large downstairs event space that played host to a selection of comedians plying their trade and raising money for Syrian refugees upon my visit.
The Food and Drink
We were lucky enough to drop in during the ethically sourced Yeah Burger’s kitchen residency and they did not disappoint. Whilst my partner in crime went for an aptly named The Yeah (£8.50) with American cheese, gherkins and Yeah! Sauce, I played it a little more gangster and opted for The O.G. 2.0 with bacon, cheese, avocado (because all “Gs” eat expensive fruit these days) and roasted jalapeno mayo (£10). Both were big, messy and bloody delicious; everything a pub burger ought to be. The sweet potato fries that came with the meal were fresh and perfect for mopping up the mayo sauce that had leaked all over my plate.
There were an array of ciders and a bespoke cocktail menu on offer but the pub’s trump card is its ongoing commitment to local breweries. We sipped on a few hard-earnt Meantime Pale Ales and London Lagers before moving on to award-winning brews from Islington’s Hammerton. It’s this allegiance to local produce that puts the pub head and shoulders above the soulless commuter hotspots that often lurk in the shadows of London’s major transport links.
We headed down on a Wednesday evening and the buzzy atmosphere tricked me into believing we were a day closer to the weekend (if not there already). It was busy and free tables were hard to come by but it was far from uncomfortable. Bar staff were kept busy, but their attentiveness ensured the ship sailed smoothly over the course of the entire evening.
Questions rang out over the upstairs PA system at a popular pub quiz whilst downstairs packed out a full capacity comedy club. MC Will Duggan weaved a hilarious evening together with help from a variety of acts, from the established Kevin Eldon to the peculiar improv of Joseph Morpurgo. The basement space was large, served by a bar and had almost certainly seen its fair share of weekend dancing, debauchery and shenanigans.
Despite this being an obvious spot for commuters, The Star of Kings does not suffer from the dreary vacancy you might expect from a customer base as irregular as the trains departing round the corner. Patrons are clearly as loyal and dedicated as the staff that serve them. It’s not always been plain sailing for this establishment but they’ve been alongside the community through sickness, emerged healthily married to the area and now reap the rewards of a pub that has transformed into a vibrant pillar of the King’s Cross regeneration.