I used to really like Polpo. Until it became a chain restaurant. Dinner there, while the food was still good, became a less special occasion (the one in Notting Hill gate is large and impersonal, contrasting massively to the tiny original in Soho). So it’s perhaps no wonder that then chef-director of the Polpo group Tom Oldroyd packed his bags last year and opened his own restaurant on Upper Street.
Oldroyd has buckets of what the new Polpos now sadly lack: charm. It’s much ‘cuter’ than Polpo (I promise the comparisons stop now), and its bright and airy disposition lends well to a long and boozy Saturday lunch. Which is what we did, after accompanying my sister to try on some wedding dresses down the road. Summer dinners could work too, as they have a few tables outside on the street, so you can enjoy lively Angel vibes while having dinner.
Tom Oldroyd clearly knows what he’s doing. The food is excellent. Small sharing plates, seasonal fresh ingredients, interesting flavours. We had huge fresh prawns, crisp light salads and phenomenal ‘vegetarian’ meatballs. Pudding wasn’t quite so light, with warm rhubarb almond tart and tiramisu, where plates were licked unabashedly.
While the place is tiny, this is no bad thing (if you book well in advance). I love small restaurants. They offer something more intimate, and also give you a sense of smugness for having managed to get a table.
So full marks for Tom, who’s given me yet another reason to return to Angel.
344 Upper St,
London N1 0PD