1 King’s Boulevard, London N1C 4BU
Head Chef: Bjoern Wassmuth
Set in a beautiful grade II-listed building behind King’s Cross station, German Gymnasium serves up Mittel-European (German for central European) inspired food. We started out at the bar, which had a concise, but well made, collection of cocktails. Afterwards, we tried a mixture of the tasting menu and à la carte, with hit and miss results. The extremely high level of service and beautiful restaurant setting, however, was enough to counteract the spread in quality from the kitchen, and I would recommend giving it a try.
Drink: 8 / 10
We challenged the sommelier to find a wine to please three different palettes; fruity, sweet and dry. The suggestion: a 2014 Fritz Willi Riesling. This turned out to be a brilliant suggestion; the white had a lot of play to it, with touches of sweetness, a hint of acidity, and a strong mineral finish.
Food: 6 / 10
– À la carte –
Green pea soup
The best way of describing this dish is basically a nicer version of the pea and ham soup from M&S. It was missing some of the deep pea flavour that a good soup can have, but was supported by a good stock. The kitchen slipped up and put a prawn in – apparently this was due to a menu change, but it would have been a nasty surprise if one were vegetarian or allergic to shellfish!
Thick cut veal schnitzel
The restaurant had run out of the thick cut veal, so we had the replacement thin cut veal with warm potato salad and lingonberry compote. This was, unfortunately, a disaster. A crying shame given the allude to Germanic roots. The schnitzel had been overcooked at too low a temperature, leaving it soggy and tough. The potato salad did not have great balance, being quite acetic, however this can be to some people’s tastes.
– Tasting menu (£45 pp) –
Yellowfin tuna tartare
Tuna, ponzu and mango: a good Japanese flavour combination, enhancing the umami of the tuna with a balanced dressing of sweetness and citric acidity. For this rendition the balance was not quite there; the tuna was not great quality and the liberal use of ponzu sauce overpowered the dish as one got close to the plate.
Chilled watermelon gazpacho
Oh, the intrigue! (And the main reason we opted for the tasting menu.) Was it going to be a watermelon gazpacho, or a gazpacho with watermelon? It turned out to be the latter. The watermelon itself was crisp and sweet, which complemented the tomato notes in the gazpacho and gave a nice textural play to the dish. In addition to the watermelon there was a swirl of sweet paprika spiced yogurt, which on paper should work, but turned out a touch cloying against the freshness of the gazpacho.
Flat iron stroganoff and spätzle
Simple, but well cooked and hence immensely enjoyable. The stroganoff was well seasoned and spiced, with a thick texture that clung to the meat. The steak came medium with good caramelisation and great flavour for the price. The kitchen initially forgot the spätzle and it didn’t arrive until after we had finished the mains – a shame, as, though it was bland, it would have been nice to use it to hoover up the rest of the stroganoff.
Roasted vanilla apricot
The slice of roasted apricot was well-executed – not too sweet or overpowered with vanilla, but it had its thunder stolen by the garnish of pomegranate seeds and cocoa nips [sic], the pairing of which was simply delicious. Another point of intrigue was the rosemary ice, which didn’t deliver much apart from texture.
Service: 9 / 10
Pretty much outstanding the whole time. They were attentive but not overbearing. There were a couple of slip-ups, but these were rectified immediately with profuse apologies.
Price point: Expensive and a bit of a gamble
The tasting menu delivered for what one pays for it, but the à la carte was a bit more like buy in Russian roulette.
In conclusion: Let yourself be wowed by the setting and treated like royalty by the staff, but don’t let that cloud your judgment of what comes out of the kitchen.
2 thoughts on “German Gymnasium”
I went to this restaurant a few weeks ago and they didn’t have the duck or the thick cut veal (apparently a sous chef’s error in ordering). I had the subsitute schnitzel dish from the Grand Cafe menu too. Fortunately, it wasn’t soggy and I agree that the potato salad didn’t quite work. We were there at 7pm for dinner and the cocktails we wanted were either unavailable or “possibly unavailable, would you like to choose something else?”. I think your review is spot on. Lovely atmosphere and service but food hit and miss. My fresh mint tea was served cold as no one noticed their machine wasn’t working, despite serving it in a metal teapot. The tea was replaced with a broken teapot (couldn’t lift the lid) filled with scalding hot water. I’m not in a big hurry to return as the overall experience was disappointing, perhaps because it started and ended on a negative note.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on our review! Interesting to hear you had a similar experience too. It’s all the more disappointing given the perfect location and astounding venue. Having said that the service was fantastic when we went there, although obviously not enough to mask the mixed results from the kitchen. We intend to upload at least one new post a week so do stay updated for more London restaurant reviews!
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