Islington. For footie fans it’s the home of Arsenal, for the rest of us it’s the home of some of London’s trendiest restaurants and bars. It’s where Jeremy Corbyn lives, and its’ where Boris resided until his wife kicked him out. And, more importantly, it’s something of a foodie magnet. And so to give you the upper hand on Upper Street, here are some dining suggestions for you. Bon appétit!
The Pig and Butcher is housed in a beautiful pub dating back to the mid 1800’s, so it only seems right such a traditionally British restaurant and butchers occupies the building. Of course, being a butchers as well, they receive the meat straight from the farm and butcher on site, so it’s certainly fresh alright! To say the interiors are replicant of your Aunts posh country farmhouse is an understatement. Here, you’ll get country house envy with their giant farmhouse dining tables, rustic furnishings, and wooden finishes. The menu changes daily using the most seasonal British produce on offer.
Great for: Proper British grub
There’s nothing more comforting than a big ol’ serving of pasta, right? Ordering it when you’re dining out though often feels like a safe bet, but when it’s done well, it’s a whole other story. Trullo is one of those exceptions. The big sister of Padella, these guys have been serving up simple, yet flavourful Italian-style dishes, with a huge emphasis on using only seasonal produce. It’s not only the food that’s classically Italian, the interiors too feel as though you’ve stepped into a traditional trattoria.
Great for: Bowls of good ol’ pasta
For any vegans out there, you’ll have heard of this one but Wild Food Café is the go-to spot for plant-based goodness. You can forget the huge vegan junk food craze that’s going around London at the moment, here you’ll find wholesome dishes that’ll leave you feeling revived and nourished. Set up by longtime plant-based innovators Joel and Aiste Gazdar, Wild Food Café celebrates natural foods, ingredients, practices and methods that haven’t been fully explored. As for interiors go, these guys certainly know a thing or two about drawing in the crowds. Think dreamy pink hues, walls piled high with tropical plants and rose-gold finishes coming from every angle.
Great for: Nutritious plant-based dishes
Salut to Salut! This Islington restaurant serves up spectacular modern-European food with a real focus on using local producers, sourcing sustainably, and using organic veggies. Thanks to its location, right on the corner of Essex Road, natural light floods through the windows, while at night you’ll find yourselves lit by candlelight. Romantic eh? The menu is full of fresh ingredients and flavours, championing the best of the local produce. A highlight on the menu for us has to be the seared duck breast served with polenta, sautéed kale, puffed spelt and black trumpet powder.
Great for: Picture perfect food (come on, we know you’re going to pop it on Insta!)
If you’re a local in Islington, you’ll have heard of 69 Colebrooke Row. Notable for the outdoor lantern, The (mysterious) Bar With No Name, draws inspiration from film noir which has been intricately interplayed in both the interiors and cocktail menu. While it’s slightly lighter on the food options, they’ve got a sharing platter to die for. Think jamón ibérico, oozing cheese and buckets of olives, all of which pair perfectly with a cocktail or two!
Great for: Bespoke cocktails and moody film noir vibes
When the head chef is the winner of BBC 2’s Great British Menu, you know the food’s going to be outstanding, and that’s certainly the case at 1251. Lead by head chef James Cochran, the food plays homage to his mixed heritage, championing Caribbean and Scottish cuisine, with dishes created with his birth town, Whitstable, in mind. The menu itself changes seasonally but divided into ‘snacks’ and larger plates, making them perfect for sharing. You’ll receive the dishes as and when they’re ready so don’t be offended if your ‘main’ comes before your ‘snack’. If you’re struggling to choose what to order, they offer a delectable eight course tasting menu for both meat eaters and veggies too.
Great for: Sharing a bunch of plates
Another veggie restaurant even meat eaters can’t miss is The Gate. Having opened up 30 years ago in Hammersmith, The Gate has seen the rise in vegetarianism and veganism, and has been serving up excellent vegetarian and vegan food to fill the demand, now across four restaurants around the city. These guys have been reigning London’s veggie scene for over 30 years now, still packing out the restaurant every night (especially at weekends!). The food is always fresh, sustainable and bloomin’ delicious!
Great for: Exquisite veggie fare
For authentic Indian cuisine, take a stroll over to Masala Zone. Here, you’ll find beautiful murals, bespoke glass dividers, and divine Indian dishes. Masala Zone is quickly becoming a crowd favourite amongst us busy Londoners, now with seven restaurants across the city. If you’re after something a little more intimate, they’ve got a private dining room seating up to 20 too.
Great for: A banging curry
When you think of a family run business that’s been rocking about for decades, you often picture it being slightly dated and stuck in its way, but that’s certainly not the case at Frederick’s. Situated in the heart of Islington’s Camden Passage, Frederick’s is a quaint family run business dating back to the ’60s. On the menu, you’ll find mostly European dishes which have been tried, tested and refined, with a few seasonal menus popping up along the way. If you’ve just popped the question, then Frederick’s could be the perfect place to consider holding the ceremony too, whether you’re after an intimate affair with just you and your two friends, or a ceremony for up to 70 guests (plus there’s seating for lunch or dinner afterward for up to 120 guests too!). Not bad for a little Islington joint!
Great for: Fine food and private dining
If you’re after traditional French cuisine, frogs legs and all, then Le Sacré Coeur is the one for you. This little bistro is one of the oldest French restaurants in the area, and has certainly built up a reputation for itself, with one of The Handbook team especially. It’s a real must-visit if you’re looking impress on a first date, or rekindle your love affair with the French way of life. Bon appétit!
Great for: Wholesome French cuisine (including the frogs legs, eek!) and unforgettable wine