Islington might be represented by the quasi-impoverished pink squares on the Monopoly board, but that doesn’t reflect its restaurant scene, which is solid gold. And probably occupied by the fancy motorcar.
So here are the best restaurants you’ll find there…
Alsatian brasseries. Thankfully, they’re fit for humans too.
That’s because their gorgeous gilded interiors and turn-of-the-century décor make them the perfect place for all-day eating and drinking on a grand scale. Opened by famed restaurant duo Corbin & King, Bellanger on Islington Green is inspired by the golden era of Franco-German dining in Parisian brasseurs. Tuck into tartes flambeés – wafer-thin wood-fired pizzas from the Alsace to you – as well as quiches, moules, entrecote and, well, just about anything else from the Franco-German border you can think of.
Aaaand all dogs are welcome…
Details: 9 Islington Green, Angel, N1 2XH
Oldroyd, the self-financed debut restaurant from Tom Oldroyd (ex-chef director at Polpo) is made with love. You’ll feel it while enjoying a cocktail at one of the small alfresco tables. You’ll feel it by the open kitchen on the ground floor. You’ll feel it in the intimate upstairs dining room, while doting on modern European dishes like smoked pork belly & pea croquettas with truffle mayonaise, and gigantic lamb & almond meatballs with salsa romesco & pickled garlic… and you’ll feel it in the chocolate mousse with salted pistachio praline.
Opened by brothers Martin and Christoph Lange, Salut! resides on Essex Road in Islington with casual-yet-fine-dining food, a relaxed atmosphere, and remarkably friendly service provided by the German-born duo themselves. They’re cooking up everything from salt marsh lamb with dauphinoise & savoy to dry-aged short horn sirloin with kale, king oyster mushrooms & truffle pomme purée. And it’s all delicious.
Named after odd looking conical houses in Apuli, Italy, Trullo is a contemporary little trattoria that you dream of finding on holiday, but sadly never do.
Because it’s in Highbury.
Jordan Freida and Tim Siadatan, formerly of River Café and Fifteen respectively, serve up some of the freshest pasta available as well as meat and fish cooked straightforwardly over burning coals. We aren’t lying when we say it’s simply delicious.
Some fish and chips shops just don’t give a fork. But Vintage Salt on Upper Street makes sure to serve the best of British seafood in a traditional Cornish village atmosphere. Eat-in or takeaway their famous fish and chips or fish finger buttie; otherwise get stuck into a braised beef pie, mash and liquor in a leather banquette. And if that wasn’t comforting enough, they also do delicious cocktails in the Frontier Room.
To you, simplicity & smoke in the kitchen means you’ve burnt the toast… But to the far more capable guys at Rok Islington, it involves perfecting the old cooking techniques of Northern Europe to bring you a true taste of Scandinavia, which apparently involves things like a scallop in its shell with ndjua & British seaweed.
It turns out ‘The Silk Road’ channelled more than just fancy fabrics along its 4000-mile length. New ingredients and cooking methods wound up on it, too, culminating in the development of a rich and progressive food culture – most notably in Turkey. And the ‘Antep Kitchen’, as it became known, has found its way to London in the form of Antepliler – an ornately decorated Newington Green restaurant famed for some of the finest Turkish cooking in London. With generous helpings of grilled meats and mezze it’s a real Turkish delight.
Introductions at this longstanding neighbourhood steakhouse are simple: People meet meat. Meat meet people. And the nice people at Meat People make this meeting really rather tasty by serving well-cooked meat to the people that come to meet it.
If, like us, you’ve been struggling to find a decent place to experience Chinese family life in the ’80s, then we’re here to help. Chinese Laundry serves Northern Mainland Chinese in a casual dining room, showcasing lesser known delicacies and other tasty things picked up from the owners’ personal food memories. For breakfast there’s dishes like congee and crispy scallion pancakes; and later on you can sample street bites, slow cooks and twists on 80’s family plates. Wash it down with a cocktail made with a selection of deadly Chinese white spirits (Baijiu).
Prawn on the Lawn
This fishmonger-cum-seafood bar has a catchy name, but it doesn’t joke about when it comes to selling and serving its ultra-fresh seafood. Pick off a platter of Fruits De Mer at their cosy counter seating, or try tapas-style fish dishes from a daily changing menu like scallop ceviche, passion fruit and chilli. You could say it’s surf on the turf.
Sister act, Sanja and Ana Morris should know a thing or two about opening a decent restaurant – one was a founder of Salt Yard Group, whilst the other worked at La Trompette, Bocca di Lupo and Rochelle Canteen. So it’s no surprise that when these two decide to spit-roast Sutton Hoo chickens and other hunks of meat in a clattery open kitchen, they do it damn well. Add to this delicious sides like English squash with lentils and creamed Swiss chard and you have yourself a winner.
Word on the grapevine is that low intervention wines are not only really trendy, but go really well with honest European cooking. Something the clever guys at Primeur must have heard before the rest of us judging by their affordable, natural wines, and clever ingredient-driven small plates.
Black Axe Mangal
Kebabs take a lot of stick. But at BAM, they’re elevated to a near art-form, thank to Lee Tiernan – formerly Head Chef of St John Bread & Wine – who knocks up haute kebabs and lamb offal flatbreads to the thrashing beat of heavy-metal.
From Alex Jackson and Stevie Parle, at Sardine Southern French cooking over a wood fire is its raison d’etre. Watch them dangle lamb legs over said fire (this technique is known as “a la ficelle”) and then eat the lovely rare meat with white beans, green sauce and a jug of wine.
Like it or not, smoking in pubs is illegal. Uuuunless the smoke is coming from sustainably sourced English oak and is being used to imbue quality meat with an unbelievable flavour that you just can’t get at home. Which happens to be exactly what Neil Rankin – one of London’s finest meat cooks – is doing at a handsome pub on Canonbury Road; and to much critical acclaim. Add to this a drinks list comprising 80 beers and wine from family-owned vineyards and you’ve got yourself your Sunday sorted.
And your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…
Like Islington’s best restaurants? Then – crazy idea – check out some of our other area guides right here…