A while ago (back in August 2015), I finally got round to sharing a list of my absolute favourite foodie hang-outs in Islington with you. And I promised you all that I would keep it updated. Well, I’ve decided to go one step further, my friends, and have compiled a **BRAND NEW** shiny list of the latest places that have got me all hot under the collar and ordering seconds.
Islington continues to surprise and delight as an exciting place to eat, drink and make merry, and most of these places are pretty new so be sure to check them out!
Highbury & Canonbury
Black Axe Mangal
The new (opened October 2015) brainchild from Lee Tiernan, ex-head chef at St. John in Spitalfields, evolved from a Copenhagen pop-up selling kebabs in a nightclub beer garden. So it’s unsurprising to hear that this is a one-off kind of a place. With a tiny, glossy black interior, furnished with psychedelic Hawaiian PVC tablecloths and a wood-fired pizza oven adorned with paintings of the band Kiss – all set to a heavy metal soundtrack – it’s cramped, fun and offbeat. The menu changes daily but centres around pillowy-soft, groan-inducing flatbread, and oft-forgotten cuts or unusual bits of meat such as offal, pig’s ear and snails. The flavours are loud and dirty and pack an umami punch. Head to Brewhouse & Kitchen (see below) for a drink while you wait for a table.
Brewhouse & Kitchen
Micro-brewery just off Highbury Corner serving all sorts of awesome beer. Perfect for a swift half as you wait for a table at Black Axe Mangal (see above).
Sawyer & Gray
Tiny, tranquil cafe with a hidden downstairs perfect for curling up with a good book or getting some work done. Great coffee and tasty, simple fare. The design-led interior is retro, rustic and alluringly Instagram-able.
From the owners of Trattoria Sapori, this new little gem (opened October 2015) on Newington Green is part natural and biodynamic wine shop and part wine bar. The space is relaxed, inviting and the staff are super friendly. We sat at the big distressed-wood dining table and tasted some excellent wines, also sampling their petite but spot-on selection of Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses and Cobble Lane Cured charcuterie, juicy olives, plump sardines and E5 Bakehouse bread. I spotted a tasty craft beer selection and some gorgeous Hansen & Lydersen smoked salmon too. I think this could become a bit of an aperitif haunt…
The latest string (opened December 2015) to Corbin & King‘s bow (behind The Wolseley and Brasserie Zédel) of grand cafe-style, all day eateries. It serves brasserie food from breakfast till past your bedtime, and is a bustling delight of art nouveau banquettes, shiny wood panelling and frosted glass chandeliers (gorge posh loos too). The retro charm extends to the food, which is Alsation-inspired, so think: schnitzel, sausages and tasty tarte flambée washed down with champagne cocktails and Riesling. The atmosphere is so warm and welcoming we arrived for lunch and stayed till dinner! So if you want to feel like you’ve been whisked away to turn of the century Paris, this is your spot.
This restaurant is the new kid on the block, opening its doors just last week (February 2016). The decor has got character, it’s not too pared back, it’s a little quirky even *gasp*. It’s eclectic and colourful with a hint of mid-century retro – think green velvet and burnt orange upholstery, a hand-painted striped ceiling and fraying vintage rugs on a resin floor. Sounds zany, perhaps, but it feels inviting and warm. Their menu too – with ex-Randall & Aubin head chef at the helm and packed full of scallops, tuna tartare and lobster – has got soul (sole pun optional). The red mullet and whole, tempura-battered soft shell crab served in a brioche bun on their brunch menu is inspired.
It was a good moment when MEATliquor N1 arrived on Upper Street (opened October 2015). As filthily good as it’s always been (Tower Block chicken burger pictured, dripping with fried chicken, cheese, slaw, hash brown and magical, MAGICAL sauce), the venue – an old Citroen garage set back from the street – is the perfect mix of anarchist squatter-chic and American diner.
Not really Islington but near enough…
The Good Egg
This light-filled Stoke Newington cafe (opened November 2015) has it oh so spot on. Serving up a heady Middle Eastern-inspired all day brunch menu, the flavours are bright and unabashed. Think pittas and fried aubergine, labneh, dukkah and shakshuka, with some bacon thrown into the mix for good measure – I wanted to try the whole menu but plumped for a zingy dak dak salad, and grilled avocado with a poached egg, topped with dukkah and chilli oil. DELISH. Order the freshly baked chocolate babka and you’ll forget about the long wait for a table…
Source: Words and photos by pip & little blue.