D&D London is to open a series of cafés, restaurants and bars at the German Gymnasium, the newly renovated former Grade II listed gymnasium in King’s Cross.
Designed by London-born architect Edward Gruning in 1865, this was the first purpose-built gym in England. Incredibly influential in the development of athletics in Britain, German Gymnasium hosted the first-ever indoor events of the 1866 Olympic Games. 150 years later, this historical establishment is re-opening with a brand new 447-cover complex comprising a ground floor grand café, an outdoor terrace, a restaurant, bars and private dining spaces.
The interior of the building, located between King’s Cross Station and St Pancras International, has been designed by Conran and Partners, who will work with the building’s key original features to create a space that evokes the heritage of this London landmark. The décor will be a contemporary take on the grand cafes and brasseries of Central Europe. Influenced by the building’s original purpose, playful gymnasium details will filter through the overall design. Gold mesh screens inspired by Victorian detailing and fencing masks will feature, while original fixtures such as climbing hooks will be retained in the ceiling of the awe-inspiring triple height space. The open pass and windows overlooking the street will invite commuters and diners to view the grand main kitchen, completely rendered in black, above which sits a separate kitchen serving the upper dining area, with a dramatic double-height mirrored glass façade.
German-born executive chef, Bjoern Wassmuth, formerly kitchen director at Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg,will create broad-ranging grand café and brasserie menus featuring some classic Mittel-European dishes as a nod to the site’s German heritage. The dining areas will combine one of Kings Cross’ largest al fresco terraces, a patisserie counter, an all-day grand café serving breakfast through to dinner, a first-floor restaurant and the Meister Bar, playing Berlin beats until 1am. The head sommelier Virgile Degrez has curated a list that will take wine lovers on a virtual tasting tour along the Danube vineyards, showcasing niche German, Austrian and Hungarian labels as well as a selection of bottles from Eastern Europe. Fred Tartas will be managing the bar, designing an innovative cocktail menu, including the multi-sensory concept, Le Whaf – a special carafe that vaporises cocktails turning them into dramatic, low-calorie clouds.
David Loewi, managing director of D&D London says: “While developing the food and drink concepts, we have respected the history of the site. Germany is well established for its wine yet its cuisine is often underrepresented in London. We aim to help change this and Bjoern’s menus will feature some delicious dishes from Germany and its surrounding countries.”
Des Gunewardena, chairman and CEO of D&D London adds: “We’ve watched and admired King’s Cross coming to life in recent years and are so excited to finally becoming part of it this November. When I first saw the German Gymnasium building stripped out, revealing the interior with its 57 ft floor-to-ceiling heights, I had the same spine tingling feeling I had when I first saw Quaglino’s as a hole in the ground 25 years ago. We love this building and its history. It deserves an exciting life in the 21st century and we are going to do our best to give it that.”