Arriving in London from Paris on the Eurostar, the contrast between the terminals couldn’t be sharper. Judged against the Gare du Nord, St Pancras and the regenerated King’s Cross show just how much London is booming. Between the two, German Gymnasium is cast in the style of a grand European brasserie and located to lure in travellers with time to kill and the well-heeled workers now inhabiting the area.
The 1865 building, designed by Edward Gruning for the German Gymnastics Society, is very pretty, especially lit up at night. Architecture firm, Allies and Morrison have revived its industrial elegance, particularly the exterior brickwork and the vaulted ceiling, while Conran & Partners interior flags up the sporting heritage – the building hosted the first indoor Olympics in 1866.
The period details are best appreciated on the upper level, from where you have a bird’s-eye view of the ‘grand café’ below. Chef Bjoern Wassmuth’s cuisine is Mittel-European, and cooked very well; the Wiener Schnitzel flies out of the kitchen. The Meister bar makes a stab at cocktail innovations, but the wines from ‘along the Danube’ are more interesting.