Gourmet meets grit in this King's Cross gem

<strong>The Fellow<br />24 York Way N1 9A<br />Tel: 0207 837 3001</strong><br />Cost per person without wine: &pound;25<br /><br />KING&rsquo;S CROSS is still a funny old area. Try as the developers might, it&rsquo;s never quite become the next Hoxton or Angel. And for anyone who prefers a good Burgundy to a hip-hop night, it&rsquo;s not much of an evening destination.<br /><br />But if there were any small sign of gentrification finally creeping in, it would be The Fellow, which opened a few months ago and recently got a new manager. Yes, there are a few other salubrious eateries in the area. But smack bang on York Way, in spitting distance of grubby King&rsquo;s Cross station, this gastropub could have come straight out of Notting Hill or Hampstead.<br /><br />The location is one of the great things about The Fellow. You feel a tiny bit cool there. Gritty life is going on just metres away, after all &ndash; more so than in Kensington, anyway. It&rsquo;s nice to feel a little edgy as you are ensconced in the leathery comfort of a cosy banquette seat, sipping Chilean viognier or Napa Valley chardonnay from the sophisticated wine list.<br /><br />The dining room is dark and wooden, with big square windows and a very long bar that hints at good nightlife creds. It&rsquo;s gloomy &ndash; but then a pub on York Way is not somewhere to go if you want to bask in the summer sun or watch the sun set.<br /><br />This being a gastropub of the new order, the food is fresh, British and ambitious. The bread is the best I&rsquo;ve had in a long time &ndash; Irish soda meets malted granary, served warm and fresh. For starters, I went for salad of smoked haddock and quail&rsquo;s eggs, while my companion ordered pan-fried duck egg, pea shoots and bacon. The haddock seemed of good quality but lacked salt, smoke and punch, leaving the dish a bit bland. The duck egg was oddly rubbery but forked with the treacly bacon and pea shoots, pretty damn nice.<br /><br /><strong>SOMETHING CLEANSING</strong><br />The bread, the heat, the gloom, the wine &ndash; it all put me in the mood for something cleansing. Enter the roast green and yellow courgettes with &ldquo;herbed&rdquo; goat&rsquo;s cheese, plum tomato and pine nuts, for &pound;10. Alas, it was a watery, amateurish dish and the presence of yellow courgettes made no difference &ndash; if they&rsquo;d stuck to green maybe it would have cost half the price. The wood pigeon &ndash; whose season is January-March &ndash; was hard work; too chewy but of a pleasing ruby colour and nicely garnished with a caramelised hazelnut salad. Meanwhile, the people on the next table were in raptures over chicken breast with hispi cabbage and hake and clams.<br /><br />Desserts are the usual tarts, crumbles and custards &ndash; no doubt delicious &ndash; but we went for the cheese and struck a home run with the super-creamy cachel blue, France-humbling Somerset brie and Cornish Yarg. The extremely good-natured service and our bottle of reasonably priced 2006 Saint Veran Burgundy (&pound;28.50) almost made up for the mixed-bag mains. It was a shock re-emerging onto York Way. But that&rsquo;s the beauty of this place &ndash; it&rsquo;s the ideal halfway house between the genteel and the cool in an area that&rsquo;s still much more the latter than the former.<br /><br /><strong>In a Nutshell: </strong><br />Well-meaning gastropub with a strong, well-priced wine list and a friendly atmosphere. Just edgy enough to attract hipsters with tattoos, but plush enough to make City professionals feel at home.