48 | squaremeal.co.uk
THE LAST WORD Thrilling, up-to-the-minute cooking - smoked, fermented, or cured - from Robin and Sarah Gill
comes to Bethnal Green with this energetic addition to the Paradise Row strip
344 Upper Street, N1 0PD
020 8617 9010 Price £34
Tom Oldroyd's �rst solo venture after
Polpo is tiny and easily missed on chainheavy
Upper Street. But its diminutive size
produces a convivial buzz akin to a family
kitchen, thanks to the open-plan layout and
the seasonal, modern European sharing
plates (which will quickly �ll the minute
tables - especially if, like us, you're tempted
to order practically the entire menu).
To begin, golden, crunchy smoked pork
belly and pea croquetas are a must. Chilli
coriander prawns (a special) arrive shell-on:
given the piquant juices lurking within, we
recommend popping them straight in your
mouth, shell and all, to minimise loss of the
wonderfully rich, oozing red chilli sauce.
Larger oerings include crab tagliarini
sitting on a brown crab rouille that made us
want to lick the plate, and lamb and almond
meatballs, which are nearly the size of your
�st and crumble satisfyingly into a vibrant
romesco and pickled garlic sauce. Salty,
crisp courgette fries perfectly accompany
both dishes, coming piled high and cutting
right through the intensity of avours.
For dessert, salty pistachios and fresh
raspberries lighten a decadent chocolate
mousse, and a white peach Bellini from the
re�ned cocktail list also does the job.
Sunday brunch is already popular,
boasting the likes of Cumberland sausage
and cabbage hash (washed down with a
spicy chipotle Bloody Mary, of course).
Oldroyd looks set to become integral to
Islington's dining scene. Though bagging a
table may be another matter.
254 Paradise Row, E2 9LE
020 7613 1502 Price £45
Its name might be confused with the
local kebab shop, Paradise Cottage,
but that's where any similarities end.
At Paradise Garage, you'll be treated to
remarkable, high-quality modish cooking.
This newcomer is the �rst venture
outside Clapham for Robin and Sarah Gill,
the husband-and-wife duo behind SW4's
critically adored The Dairy and The Manor
restaurants. Chef Robin Gill has quite
the CV, including four years at Le Manoir
aux Quat'Saisons and a stint at Noma.
The latter's Nordic inuence is evident in
Gill's predilection for smoking, curing and
fermenting, though Le Manoir makes its
mark too in the home-grown produce,
served bang in season.
Clattery and lively, the venue �ts neatly
into Bethnal Green's Paradise Row, a strip
of bars and restaurants in railway arches
near the Tube station. Its concrete oor,
white tiles and �lament bulbs epitomise
the new wave of modern, energetic east
London eateries, complete with pops of
colour from the waiting sta's tattoos and
lights from the nearby BP garage.
Gill's food is thrilling, sometimes
challenging, but always visually arresting:
just as fashionable young locals like it.
There's a tasting menu (£45), though the
convivial way is small plates from the
'snacks', 'garden', 'sea' and 'land' sections
(or a whole 'rabbit picnic' for the table).
Of the dishes we sampled, cold charred
sweetcorn with candied hemp seeds was
a dud, but the rest, from sourdough and
heavenly smoked whisky butter onwards,
were high on impact and unshowy
technique. Tomato salad had the added
complexity of smoky eel jelly and
fermented tomato chutney. Blackened
sardine with pickled vegetables and cod's
roe was another beautiful dish, while
tender pork 'presa' with pig's head terrine
was satisfying modern comfort food.
Paradise Garage's funky avours will
divide opinion no question, but that's all
part of the fun.
THE LAST WORD Tom Oldroyd's convivial little
newcomer is already wowing Islington with its punchy,
modern Euro sharing plates - snatch a table fast