It may be one of London’s smallest boroughs, but don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – size isn’t everything. Because, when it comes to dining out, Islington is among the most significant.
Already known for his accessible Italian food, Francesco Mazzei has taken that concept even further with Radici. As is the case with his other efforts, Radici is praised for its desserts – no doubt because, as a boy, Mazzei spent many hours behind the counter at his family-owned gelateria.
Of Scottish and Caribbean parentage, but raised in the Kentish town of Whitstable, James Cochran’s restaurant is an embodiment of his influences. It’s a bold approach – one that leads to a mix of kid goat jerk, Ayrshire roast beef, and Whitstable oysters – but a winning one
Never mind the new, there’s still comfort in the old: Bellanger is a return to the grand cafés of yestercentury. There’s veal schnitzels, high ceilings, waistcoated waiters, and no shortage of gold trim. What else would you expect from the bunch behind Brasserie Zedel and The Wolseley?
Black Axe Mangal
With a fondness for skateboards, KISS, and floor art resembling certain parts of the human anatomy, BAM is a timid one from the outside – locals walk past the plain exterior unknowing that this is a gutsy (in all senses of the word) kebab joint, and one of London’s best at that
Tom Oldroyd’s (who recently opened The Duke of Richmond) restaurant, from its diminutive space to its well-priced continental dishes, has ‘modern bistro’ written all over it. As bijou as it is popular among the locals, Upper Street wouldn’t be the same without it.
Towards one of the often forgotten corners of Islington, there’s Newington Green. Once a hunting ground for Henry VIII, its draws have changed somewhat – Perilla being up there among them. Its tasting menu has had critics in a swoon, right from the seaweed sourdough to start all the way to the buckwheat profiteroles.
Llerena is a town in Extremadura in Western Spain. The region’s most famous delicacy is Ibérico pork, so expect to find special attention paid towards it here. Ham and wine pit stops are fully encouraged, but the quality of the tapas – chorizo and blood sausage stew, oxtail croquettes – encourages a longer visit.
The Drapers Arms
Is it too much to call The Drapers’ Arms a modern classic? All the ingredients are there – a gastropub still relevant even outside the nineties, can be formal if you want it to be, or a superb option for a Sunday roast. Adding to that, the pub has taken 15th spot in the recently released Top 50 Gastropubs for 2019
Trullo, Padella’s top-hatted, monocled brother, seems almost the antithesis of its London Bridge partner. Such is life south of the river. But clearly somethings can’t help but share the same DNA, especially the beef shin pappardelle, served at both restaurants.
Westerns Laundry is the sort of place where menus are scribbled, school-essay style, on lined paper. Where seafood is served – as the name suggests – in a former laundrette. And where you’re likely to end up sharing a table with a stranger. As things should be, the target is good food – one bite of their pigs’ head croquettes and there’s little doubt of their aim.
Visit OpenTable to make a reservation or discover more restaurants in Islington.
This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.