An article by Rebecca Gibson – A (new) Coverpoint Consultant
I have been in the consultancy business for 4 weeks now! Just two months ago I was finishing my Degree in Hospitality Management. After winning 1st prize at University for playing my part on the winning team of a consultancy project, I was eager and ready to put my skills into practice. I applied to Coverpoint, and to my surprise, I was accepted. Now that I have been there for a month, I am beginning to understand you don’t have to be fifty years old to be a consultant, at least not at Coverpoint!
So, I should really tell you about my first Blog. After a midday meeting presenting to a new Client about a fantastic European Headquarters office building in London, we decided to take a ‘pit stop’ at the new food mezzanine at the Kings Cross Station concourse. The boys at Coverpoint said that Kings Cross used to be famous for other things apart from food, but we had better not go into that!
I was keen to see the new concourse designed by architect John McAslan and Partners, finished in March 2012, which boasts the largest single span structure in Europe. Well, it certainly was not a disappointment. The sheer size and elegance of the design has massively enhanced this transport hub. It is breathtaking, and we weren’t the only ones who clearly felt this way, as looking around many open mouthed tourists and travellers were wide eyed with cameras at the ready.
With the initial introduction to the new concourse out of the way, and after a quick photo shoot at Harry Potters platform 9 3/4, we moved on up to the new Mezzanine with high expectations and some hunger. Having looked at the choice we really couldn’t decide, with a broad range of restaurants on offer, including Prezzo, Giraffe Stop, Wasabi and Patisserie Valerie. We almost walked past Yalla Yalla, which specializes in “Beirut street food”. Having opened their first Yalla Yalla outlet in Soho in 2008 and another just North of Oxford Street in 2010, this unique Lebanese restaurant has received rave reviews from the likes of Time Out and British Airways High Life magazine. This was selected as “the one” for today.
Whilst the counter is beautifully designed, you don’t get any impression that it is Lebanese cuisine, and with the absence of a menu board you have to get right up to the glass to “discover the food”. The staff were friendly and helpful, supplying us was a paper takeaway menu to browse the choices. After a brief inspection of what was on offer, I decided on a Street Food platter (despite the rather bland appearance of the wraps in the counter). This dish consists of any Mezze dip or salad with any wrap. I chose Chicken Shawarma and after a short, 5-minute wait, we were presented with 3 disposable plastic clamshell containers, containing my choice, and 2 more for the boys. The containers are brilliant and so easy to takeaway food.
Although it was premature, we also decided to have a bottle of Prosecco, to toast our potential new project from earlier in the day. I’ve only known Jonathan for one month, but that is long enough to establish he really doesn’t need much of an excuse to open a bottle! The Prosecco came chilled, accompanied by three plastic glasses, giving a kind of ‘picnic at Kings Cross vibe’, which couldn’t have been more welcomed in the afternoon heat.
Then we searched for a table to sit and enjoy our food. We elected to sit in the only seating option available, which is a “communal”seating area shared by all Kings Cross users. I sat and listened to Jonathan and Ian’s discussion, and the more I listened, it became clear what the problem was. With only three out of thirteen tables surrounding us being used by foodservice customers, there was clearly an issue with the seating. Most of the people around us were just general station users, not foodservice guests. It appeared that the most popular use for the tables and chairs was as a waiting room, or somewhere to consume anything bought anywhere else. It frankly cheapened the area and really made the experience much less pleasant, feeling like you were eating in a concourse.
So to the food. At first I have to admit I was a little apprehensive, as Lebanese cuisine is a new experience for me, however I could not have been more surprised. My food was nicely sectioned out in to 3 compartments (wrap, Hummus and pitta) all of which tasted extremely fresh, and the wrap was hot and packed with filling. A few little mystery pots of dip came with our food. The first of which we discovered was a mild chilli dip, and the second was yogurt. Overall the food (and wine) was excellent, sadly let down by the environment around the counter. Typical to many projects we are now working on after they have opened, something was just not quite right. Despite Network Rail having spent a fortune on the amazing architecture, at a macro level, the micro level of the building just didn’t work as well.
It’s a shame as the idea is fantastic. However the lack of dedicated seating, the clearing being carried out by station concourse cleaners and the general sense of it not “belonging” to any operator made the whole experience surreal. It certainly wasn’t the place to sit and consume a bottle of wine with friends.
I know that Jonathan would want me to post our number just in case those nice Network Rail people at Kings Cross would like to give us a call. We would, of course, be happy to help!– 0118 940 5266.