If you make your entrance into St Pancras from the sooty depths of the tube, it makes first impressions of this historical building all the more grand. Red brick, wrought iron and glass pane after glass pane, make up the vast expanse that is St Pancras International. It’s a breathtaking expanse too, and delivers a sense of old fashioned travel, wrapped up with excitement and a sense of occasion. The glass roof travels the length of the building and catches many an upward gaze from admiring commuters. Up on platform level, the Champagne Bar continues to emphasise the building’s lengthy measure, running 96 metres alongside the stretch that is platform 5.
The Champagne Bar booths run alongside the platform, broken only by the bar itself, which is packed with people and their travelling paraphernalia when we arrive. Waiters rush around with bottles of bubbly, twisting corks, popping fizz and looking the part in their thick grey jackets, designed to keep the cooler climes of St Pancras at bay. As we slipped into our booth we noticed that there was a switch to activate our heated seats, should we feel a shiver coming on. Despite the fact that St Pancras is an airy space, we didn’t feel compelled to heat up the booth and after a few sips of Bollinger Special Cuvée, we warmed up fairly quickly.
As well as heated seats, each booth sports power points for laptops and the like, and, depending on which way you sit, a wonderful view of St Pancras’ gilded clock. The menu at the Champagne Bar, is about the champagne first and foremost, with a handful of choices to nibble and dine on, depending on the size of your appetite. Bubbles by the glass range from £7.00 - £25.00, whilst bottles start from £39.50 up to £6,500.00. Yes that’s right, £6,500.00 - if you fancy a bottle of Dom Pérignon White Gold Jeroboam 1995, that is. Old faithfuls like Moet et Chandon feature, as do the lighter, fruitier (and cheaper) likes of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and Gosset Grande Reserve, the latter of which was served up at the Royal opening of the station. Champagne breakfast and tea are also served, just in case you can’t get enough of the stuff.
We had been hell bent on sampling half a dozen oysters, but were informed that they had just sold the last clutch of bivalves. Slightly disheartened at the lost chance to boost our zinc intake, we sipped on glasses of Ruinart and Gosset, whilst we decided on our next culinary move. Ten minutes later, a salmon sandwich, a plate of carpaccio of beef and a platter of antipasto arrived on our table, looking almost as tempting as the champagne. The open sandwich was layered up with salmon on one slice and moreish slivers of pickled cucumber on the other. The carpaccio of beef was suitably savoury and the platter of grilled artichokes, ballontine of salmon, babaganush, and grissini was a perfect plateful of varied bites. We finished with a chocolate fondant, which could have done with more chocolate, and less of its floury texture – average as desserts go.
With all of its 96-metre wow factor, the Champagne Bar at St Pancras is a great place to meet for drinks, but there’s a decidedly transient feel to it. It’s a precursor to something else, just like the building that hosts it. Whether that’s a night on the town, dinner for two, or a trip to Paris, you could do little better than to slide into a booth beforehand and sip on a glass of decent fizz, before you travel onto your next destination.
Champagne Bar St. Pancras: St Pancras International, Pancras Road, London, NW1 2QP.
Reviewer: Helenka Bednar