A taste of the good life
17:56 15 December 2010
Rob Bleaney checks out Season Kitchen, an exciting new restaurant in Finsbury Park
Stroud Green Road, N4
020 7263 5500
ROSEMARY and chocolate pot with black pepper biscotti is not the sort of dessert you usually expect to find in Stroud Green Road.
The lively street which divides Islington and Haringey can boast an impressive array of authentic, down-to-earth restaurants – but such a Heston Blumenthal-esque fusion of flavours is not the norm.
Not until eight weeks ago that is, when young restaurateurs Neil Gill and Michael Spurgeon opened Season Kitchen and put their stamp on the area’s eating out scene.
Not that these guys are not down to earth, you understand.
Neil, who lives just round the corner and is a regular visitor to the street’s famous pizzerias with his two young daughters, is a warm and welcoming face on the restaurant floor.
Michael, who has cooked at some of London’s best-loved gastropubs including The Eagle, in Clerkenwell, and The William IV, in Kensal Green, where he was head chef, patrols the open kitchen with a similar passion.
The pair met when they worked together at the award-winning organic Duke of Cambridge, in St Peter’s Street, Islington, and they have brought the high standards and passion for innovation to their latest venture.
The restaurant itself is quite simple, a cosy front room-style space with a rustic wintery charm, but out the back things get interesting.
There is a small garden where Neil and Michael keep chickens and grow their own fruit and vegetables. “A bit like The Good Life,” they explain. “But without Felicity Kendal unfortunately.”
It’s part of their responsible approach to food miles, which also includes using fresh seasonal ingredients and locally sourced produce.
The meat is from Godfrey’s in Highbury Barn, the smoked salmon is from Hansen & Lydersen in Stoke Newington and the honey is from Finchley-based beekeeper Julian Gonnermann.
All very worthy and interesting of course, but what makes Season Kitchen one of the most exciting new restaurants in north London is the sensational food.
A wonderfully inventive starter of dried beef with apricot and almond chutney was an absolute delight, and my dining partner’s cream of cauliflower soup with beetroot crisps slipped down a treat.
Despite her vegetarian tendencies, I couldn’t resist the temptation of a whole bird for main, and a beautifully flavoursome partridge served with “pear, parsnip and pig” (bacon to you and me) was duly ravaged to a carcass. Not that she noticed much, so smitten was she with a roast cod with buttered leeks and romesco source that was cooked to perfection.
A delightful lemon tart and the implosion of flavours of the aforementioned chocolate pot finished off a truly exceptional meal.
It’s no wonder the locals are swooning already. Who needs Felicity Kendal when life is this good? – ROB BLEANEY
Mains from: £8.95
Wines: from £13.50
Children welcome: yes
Disabled access: Yes