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Monday, 17 June 2013

Sweetness and Light at 30 Euston Square

Words & Photography by Felicity Spector

Five floors below, the harassed commuters come and go: yet on the roof terrace of 30 Euston Square, with expansive views across London‘s skyline, it seems a million miles away from traffic jams and bus fumes and passengers cramming onto overcrowded trains. Instead, the building showcases a cool, deliberately urban design: rooms flooded with light, and carefully restored tiled walls and stairways mixing the original architecture with something far more modern.

It has taken £20 million to transform this Grade II listed building into a luxurious venue, complete with grand state rooms which can cater banquets for more than 200 people. The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is already in the building: there are even exam rooms for putative GPs. Elsewhere, there's a range of different break-out areas, meeting spaces, and private dining rooms, along with high-spec overnight accommodation, with 41 boutique style bedrooms. This isn’t just a business venue: you can hire it for a wedding - the state rooms and roof terrace, for example, cost around £3,000 for a day, while smaller meeting rooms begin at just £300.

And there’s an added benefit to this space: all profits go right back to the RCGP to help their cutting-edge work in patient care.

The catering, including a café which is open to the public, is all run by Searcys, and they were in charge of the food and drink at the launch event which we were invited to.

In the basement, where a huge 300 seat auditorium was playing the movie Avatar to an audience of one, a chef was hand carving a huge ham as part of a mini charcuterie platter, complete with chunks of house-made black pudding scotch egg, piccalilli, and some Shropshire blue cheese.

We took our charcuterie dishes up to the top floor, to investigate the state rooms, where portraits of past presidents of the RCGP gazed down from the walls. The launch event food was far superior to the usual range of canapés  we enjoyed some crisp salmon burgers with pesto on a brioche bun and potato rosti with spiced aubergine, before discovering some more chefs, who created beautiful little portions of sea bass with soused vegetables, and a beetroot and heritage tomato salad with micro cress, made to order.

Back in the main room, we were transfixed by a vast display of desserts, which seemed to be constantly replenished. We tried one of everything: a fabulous profiterole filled with chocolate mousse and a glossy ganache. A shot glass of pana-cotta with a layer of berry compote and a fresh raspberry. A tart with crème patissiere and compressed strawberry. Some carrot cake and a rich, gooey brownie. And three kinds of macaroons.

We were very impressed by the quality of the food, which comes under the aegis of executive chef Arnaud Stephens, whose professional background includes Maze and Tante Claire. There’s also an in-house pastry chef: hence the glorious selection of desserts.

You’re just three minutes from Euston, yet from one side of the light-filled corridor around the state rooms, you can see the Shard in the distance: the lights from the high rise office blocks wink overhead. We were lucky: there was plenty of space on the roof terrace - it was a perfect evening to sit and relax in this sun-trap, and watch the sun setting over London.

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